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February 14, 2009

Peppers Q&A transcript (complete)

Julius Peppers discussed his desire to leave the Carolina Panthers during a conference call with reporters today, including The Observer's Charles Chandler and Tom Sorensen. Here's a transcript of the call, with questions and answers edited for clarity and brevity:

Q: Could you discuss your desire to play in a new system and why do you want to leave Carolina's system for something new? What is it that makes you want a change?

A: Really, it's been seven years, seven good years. I think my desire has been stated. Nothing has been said that doesn't represent how I feel about the situation. As far as wanting to explore a different system, I said things about wanting to maybe play in a 3-4, and that's still the case. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm ruling out any other teams that play a 4-3. I just sort of have that option available because I feel in that particular system, it would allow me to do things that playing defense in a 4-3 doesn't necessarily allow me to do.

Q: If Carolina franchises you within the next week, what would be your recourse at that point? Have you told them you would not show up to minicamp or anything of that sort?

A: If they decide to use the tag on me, the first thing I would be doing is requesting a trade. Anything after that is basically, I don't know. I don't know what would be the course of action. Basically, we would deal with that when that time comes.

Q: How did things get to this point? After seven years, what is it about the situation in Carolina, specifically, that you want to get away from?

A: Seven years is a long time. Since I've been here, I've given everything I had. There's never been a time when I wasn't giving my all. Basically, it's a situation I feel it's a point in my career I just want to do different things. It has nothing to do with anything that happened between me and any coaches, me and the owners of this team. It had nothing to do with anything anybody did. It's nothing that happened. I just feel like personally for me and my career, it's time for a change. That's pretty much it.

Q: Is this as much about getting out of North Carolina, your home state, as much as it is leaving the Carolina Panthers?

A: Really, it's not really about that. If I was to sit here and say that had nothing to do with it, that wouldn't be the truth. But it's not as big a deal as people may think it is. It's really more about me getting to point where I feel like I'm happy and I'm comfortable with what I'm doing and how my career is going. Carolina is home for me. It's always going to be home. Even if I do leave, it's not like I want to get away, because it's home. It's not really as much about that as you may think.

Q: Since (agent) Carl (Carey) made the announcement that you wanted to leave, defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac left and defensive line coach Sal Sunseri left, did those changes allow you to reconsider at all whether you wanted to leave the Panthers?

A: Basically, with Sal and Trgo, it had nothing at all to do with Sal and Trgo -- or Coach Fox for that matter. Their leaving has no affect on my desire to want to try something different. When Sal called and said he was leaving, or when I read about Trgo leaving, that really didn't change the way I felt about the situation at all.

Q: If the Panthers had switched to a 3-4 scheme, would that have made you want to stay?

A: That's just speaking in fantasy football because Coach Fox is a 4-3 guy and I could never really see him changing and going to a (3-4). I can't really answer that question because I don't really think it's possible.

Q: Which teams are you interested in going to?

A: I can't really go into detail about what city and what team I would be interested in playing for. Right now, it's still kind of up in the air. Like I said earlier, that's something we'll get to when it comes. I have teams that I'm interested in, but to go into detail would really be pointless because that's a long ways away, and we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Q: Some of your teammates said you told them after the Arizona game that you enjoyed playing with them and that they knew then that you were gone. Was there a point last season when you knew it was over here for you?

A: When I did that, when I went up to my teammates – and it was mainly my fellow D-linemen – it was mainly to say coming into this year I felt like the D-line was looked upon as the weak link to the football team. Basically, I was just going in the midst of that Arizona game, when clearly we were going to lose and time was winding down, I just went up to those guys and just told them, `Coming into this year, nobody expect a lot from us. I'm proud of how we played.' It was a pleasure to work with those guys and to have those guys as teammates. That's pretty much what that was, it wasn't anything else.

Q: Did you know early in the season, when the Panthers first made their contract offer to you, that it was a possibility or even a probability that this was going to be your last year with the team? Was there a point where you said, `It's over here.'?

A: That point came after the season. When the Panthers made the contract offer, that was before the season. At the time, I was more focused on helping the football team win and accomplishing our main goal, and during the season that was all I was focused on. It wasn't focused on any contract, or if I wanted to be there or leave or anything.

Q: Have the Panthers told you they're going to franchise you, and is there any chance they wouldn't?

A: I don't really have an answer to that question. They haven't expressed to me whether they will or will not. We can assume a lot of different things. There are a lot of different routes they could go. That's up to them, what they do and when they do it.

Q: If you were the Panthers and you were in the situation they're in, with you staring at free agency and Jordan Gross staring at free agency, and only one tag to go around, what would you do? And, secondly, have you had any contact with Jordan Gross about what's going on right now?

A: If it was my decision … basically, this is what I would do: Jordan Gross has come out and stated he wants to sign an extension with the Panthers. You've got one player saying he does (want to stay) and one player who says he wants to move on and try something different. If I was in that situation, I would try to accommodate the guy who wants to be there – (as the) No. 1 priority.

The second part of that question, I saw Jordan last week in Hawaii, of course. We didn't really go into depth about his situation or my situation. We don't really know a lot of details about each other's situation. It wasn't really about (that) at all. It was really about just the past season and just having fun in Hawaii. It really wasn't much about contracts.

Q: At times Mr. (Jerry) Richardson has tried to contact players, and he is certainly going through a hard time, but at any point has he, over the past couple of months, talked to you or tried to get you to change your mind?

A: I have a lot of respect for Mr. Richardson. To go into any detail about any conversations we had, I don't think that would be doing any good. Basically, those conversations are private. I'm not really willing to comment on anything that's been said between us.

Q: What have you been doing since the season ended? Are you still in Charlotte?

A: I've been at the Pro Bowl. I've been just relaxing. Right now, I'm not in Charlotte. I haven't really been doing too much, just relaxing and trying to let the body calm down from a long season.

Q: Could you elaborate on your interest in playing in a 3-4 and what you've seen other teams do with players in that scheme that intrigues you? Is it sort of how Dallas uses DeMarcus Ware?

A: I can't really say DeMarcus Ware, or (Pittsburgh's) James Harrison, for that matter. They both had great seasons. I look at myself as a different player from either one of those two guys.

When I say `reaching my potential', that is not a slight against Coach Fox and his system. I enjoyed playing in his system and I excelled in it. I feel like I've been productive, for the most part, my whole career. When I say I want to reach my potential, that's a personal thing. I'm not trying to blame Coach Fox or any other coach I've worked with. Basically, I have personal standards and personal goals.

It's more of an internal thing. I'm the only one who truly knows the ability I have. I feel it could be maximized and I feel like I could be even more productive than I've been in the past. I feel like I've gotten close to maxing out in the system I'm in now.

Q: What is the perfect situation for you outside of a 3-4 system? What are you looking for in your next team?

A: I'm looking for a chance to really do things with the abilities that I have that playing this position that I'm playing now really doesn't allow me to do in this system. The system I played in was great. It was good. I don't have any problems or any negative things to say about where I've been and the system I've played in. It's just about doing something different for my career and my own self because one day I'm not going to be able to play football anymore, whether that's five years or 10 years or whatever it is. I don't want to look back and say, `Dang, I wish I would have played somewhere or did something else.'

Q: Are there any off-the-field things you're looking for in your next destination?

A: Not really. This is a career decision. This is not about wanting to be in an attractive city. It's about being on a football team and being in a system and a position that allows me to accomplish the things I want to accomplish on the football field. It has nothing to do with that other stuff.

Q: For the fans wearing No. 90 jerseys and trying to grapple with this, even as much as you've tried to explain it, what would you say specifically to them?

A: The fan support since I've been in Charlotte has been tremendous. What I would say to these people is you have to take the emotional part of it out and place your own self in this situation. If you were being held back at your job and you fulfilled your contract and all the obligations you had, and played or worked seven years on a contract and it was time for that contact to expire, and you wanted to do something different and you were told, `I know you did all of that and you've fulfilled what you're supposed to do, but you've still got to stay.' I don't think people would be willing to live under those same standards they want to place on me. I just don't. So what I say is (to) put yourself in my shoes and look at my situation instead of being emotional about it.

Q: Have you talked to Coach Fox, or Marty Hurney or Mr. Richardson since it was first publicly announced that you didn't want to return?

A: Any conversation I've had with any of those three, those are things that I'm not really willing to talk about right now.

Q: If the Panthers do put the tag on you and can't get a trade they consider fair value, do you see any scenario at all where you would come back as a Panther next season?

A: Like I've said, that is a long way out. That is too far out for me to even be thinking about right now. Right now I am waiting on the franchise tag, or not waiting on the franchise tag. From there, we'll see what happens next. That's too far out to be wasting any energy and any time on that.

Q: Are you expecting that tag?

A: I really don't know. They could do it. The answer to your question is I don't know. I'm not expecting it and I am expecting it. There are so many dynamics to this situation. It's possible for them to go either way on it, so I don't know what to expect.

-- Charles Chandler

Posted by Observer Sports on February 14, 2009 at 03:04 PM | Permalink


Wow, that really clears everything up. Yea, that was sarcasm.

Posted by: OConnorKE | Feb 14, 2009 3:43:29 PM

Basically, his own self wants something different for his own self. Thanks for clearing that up, JP.

Posted by: jeff | Feb 14, 2009 3:58:37 PM

He says he wants to do different things - would a reporter please stand up and ask him to specifically define what are those "things?" You guys had him on the hook and let him off!!

Posted by: DSB | Feb 14, 2009 4:12:23 PM

Hmmm, so he has given it his all since he has been here huh? I call B.S. on that statement. He takes more plays off than any "elite" player I have ever seen.

See ya Peppers, remember the saying, the grass is always greener. No worries, he will be homeless and penniless within 5 years of ending his football career, mark my words. He is not a very intelligent individual.

Posted by: Bye Bye Peppers | Feb 14, 2009 4:19:42 PM

you are right dsb, they should have asked him specifically what he wants to do. they let him off the hook. oh well, when he fails wherever he goes we will all be laughing saying you wanted to try new things and you failed. sorry

Posted by: JP doesn't even know what he wants | Feb 14, 2009 4:23:06 PM

I think people are looking too much into this to try and attack the ownership or coaching staff. Look, the guy doesn't want to be here. Fine, forget him. Sorry, but adios. Me personally as a fan of the Panthers, I don't want anyone here who doesn't want to be here. I think he's doing the right thing by, for the most part, keeping his mouth shut so Carolina can garner some trade value out of him. Ship him to Cleveland's abysmal 3-4, take their 1st and 3rd or 4th round pick, and let him go "explore his potential" in that disaster of a city and football team. It's been real Julius, but good riddance. Give me a guy who wants to line up every Sunday and go to war, not someone who doesn't want to be here.

Posted by: ChunkyLover519 | Feb 14, 2009 4:24:56 PM

I used to the Peppers was a humble dude. This whole situation has changed my mind. I like how he never mentioned anything about winning a championship when they asked what he's looking for in his new team. All he talked about was himself.

Posted by: Jason | Feb 14, 2009 4:25:03 PM

Ya know, there really is no limit to where a good ol Carolina education will take ya!

Posted by: viktorg | Feb 14, 2009 4:28:36 PM

this has to be the worst interview ever.....please stop being scared and ask some real questions..now you guys are not doing your job and putting these guys on the line!grow some balls because i dont know who needs them the most the reporters or jp.and whats taking so long for the panthers to make a move im getting nervous over here!!!!

Posted by: darius | Feb 14, 2009 4:30:33 PM

waste of time

Posted by: darius | Feb 14, 2009 4:33:04 PM

He can't be all he can be in Carolina? If I'm correct didn't he have an offer from Reggie White when he was alive to mentor him. But Peppers declined and know is complaning about a system holding him back. If anything he has been shielded in this system. Let him asked players in large markets what happens after a 2 1/2 sack season.

Posted by: Ronnie | Feb 14, 2009 4:37:19 PM

He is a IDIOT...I hope we franchise him and send him to the worst team in the NFL...Maybe the lions or cincy...Let him get use to losing ever game instead of winning most of them here in Charlotte.

Posted by: DKS | Feb 14, 2009 4:37:45 PM

He is a IDIOT...I hope we franchise him and send him to the worst team in the NFL...Maybe the lions or cincy...Let him get use to losing ever game instead of winning most of them here in Charlotte.

Posted by: DKS | Feb 14, 2009 4:37:45 PM

Screw you Pep! Maybe if you stayed out of Suite nights before games, you would have played better. Peace out!

Posted by: Dion | Feb 14, 2009 4:42:00 PM

I wish Pep nothing but the best. He doesn't owe anyone a thing. And even he knows that signing Jordan Gross is priority one. Hurney needs to have that deal wrapped up at 9am Monday morning.

Posted by: BigMikey | Feb 14, 2009 4:50:09 PM

You people are idiots!!....he is a free agent, keyword being "Free", he fulfilled his contract & obligation to the Panthers if he wants to go try something new then let him, its his choice & right and he dont have to explain anything to any of you. Im a panthers fan with or without Peppers and I am a Peppers fan playing for Carolina or not...he probably wants to leave becuz the Panthers have one of the silliest fan base in all of pro football, nothing they ever do is good enough for the majority of you.....

Posted by: Panther Fan | Feb 14, 2009 5:01:28 PM

Sooo... From as vague as Pep was allowed to be, it could be he wants to go somewhere else and be a cheerleader. Awesome interview skills, guys.

And note how Tom S. status as confidant of the Big Cat lets Pep off the hook when Pep wants to keep those conversations with the owner private. It was bad enough when Tom sat on JR's unhappiness with Keyshawn until KJ was cut, now this.

Unless and until someone probes this matter deeper I'll go to my grave thinking that the clumsy, and tone-deaf way JR called out Pep in public at Mike Minter's retirement convinced Pep that he'd never be appreciated in Carolina for who he is on and off the field. We certainly have no actual facts about the game of football to base Pep's feelings on.


Posted by: JAT | Feb 14, 2009 5:09:59 PM

whatever you feel about the situation...it hurts no matter what, no matter if you like the dude or not. Another big name decides to leave the team. Question...Why do we (Charlotte franchises) always lose the big name players? Peppers, Alonzo Mourning, don't forget we couldv'e had Kobe Bryant, but he didn't want to get drafted here. We might want to extend DeAngelo before he starts wanting out(Just a thought).

Posted by: Tman | Feb 14, 2009 5:16:05 PM

I guess the Big O has fired all of the editors? I couldn't even finish reading this it was so bad. How hard is it to type a transcript?

Posted by: PTR6000 | Feb 14, 2009 5:18:30 PM

I honestly can't say I feel any more enlightened on the Peppers situation than before I read this transcript. Julius has fulfilled his contractual agreement with Carolina, and now wants out to try something new. It's nothing against the previous (or new) coaching staff. 3-4 intrigues him, but it's not mandatory that he plays in that system. How the Panthers handle his status moving forward is completely out of his hands, but his cards are on the table.

Seriously, what did I overlook that wasn't already stated by his agent weeks ago? If it weren't for the irrelevant Pro Bowl comments, you could slap a Jan. '09 date on this article, and I wouldn't know the difference.


Posted by: Newsinz | Feb 14, 2009 5:24:11 PM

You posters are quite a sad bunch. Its obvious that you are emotionally attached to the situation even though football is just a sport you watch on TV. Let it go and stop hating. This may be your favorite pastime, but it is something else for the players, owners, coaches and the families of those involved. Those individuals have lives outside of what you see on your screen. The Panthers are a corporation and the players are employees. How many of you have given seven of your best years to ONE corporation? And if you have, whats wrong with wanting to try out something else after those seven years? Signing a long-term contract is where JP will end his career - would you want to work your whole professional life at one corporation without ever contemplating a different scenario? I find it so ironic in this day and age of climbing divorce rates where the majority of marriages fail within the first 5 years that people are giving JP such a hard time! This is a sport and you guys treat it as so much more than true matrimony! And to those ignorant posters who are wishing JP to be shipped out to the Lions or Cincy, JP has to agree to any trade that occurs under the franchise tag.

Posted by: jdr | Feb 14, 2009 5:24:11 PM

Peppers needs to understand, a lot of us average Joe's, are working at jobs that we don't know what tomorrow will bring, let alone, if we will have a paycheck at all.. The Panthers offered to make him the highest paid player in the NFL, before the season even started. This past year, he was the 5th highest paid player in the entire NFL (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, were 3 of the other 4 highest paid).. I have a hard time feeling sorry for Peppers, when he was offered a guarantee contract that was huge.. In this economy, anyone would luv to have that guarantee of money and security

Posted by: Catsnmbr1fan | Feb 14, 2009 5:26:14 PM

Catsnmbr1fan - so what you are saying is that this should be about the money? He was offered to be the highest paid player and he should have taken it? That is where Albert Haynesworth is going, if you have followed his comments regarding his free agency. That is obviously not Peppers, who is willing to overlook the money. I would lose respect for Peppers if he would have signed that contract just because it would've made it the highest paid player.

Posted by: hass | Feb 14, 2009 5:33:32 PM

JDR - You are correct and wrong at the same time. People watch sports, read books, play games, as a release from their day to day jobs, and lives.. It is a release from that stress, that we get so involved with our Sports heroes. To take your statement a little farther, Football players and other sport athletes, need to remember, that they are playing a game, not curing cancer, teaching kids, or protecting our country. So as a fan, we only ask that these athletes. let us enjoy and cheer, the way that we choose..And then they can go back to their mansions, expensive cars, and trips to Hawaii. While we get up the next morning and trudge to work.

Posted by: Catsnmbr1fan | Feb 14, 2009 5:39:28 PM

hass - it's about the money and the guarantee of a job.. Most fans, and other folks,, in this economy, would luv to have that guarantee of money (pay check) and the security.

Posted by: Catsnmbr1fan | Feb 14, 2009 5:44:03 PM

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