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March 05, 2010

Delhomme transcript from fond farewell: "I'll always be a Carolina Cajun"

   Following is a transcript of Jake Delhomme’s farewell press conference with the Carolina Panthers following his release by the team. Some questions and answers are edited for clarity and brevity:


   (Opening Remarks)


   If I keep my head down, I apologize.

   To think back to March of 2003, I came here on a visit, a nobody … I apologize. (Pause)

   These are joyful emotions that I’m feeling, and that’s the honest to God’s truth. When I signed here in ’03, I wanted a chance to play quarterback in the NFL. I got that chance, and I think I made the most of it. I ran with it and we had a good run. Six out of my seven years here playing have been outstanding. It’s been a great run.

   I’m leaving with no animosity whatsoever. The way the Panthers handled the release was in a first-class way.

   I was blindsided. I will say that. I think the main reason was everybody knows the contract and, monetarily, those things that were along with it.

   When I got a call yesterday to call Foxy, I thought it was moreso `Hey, we’re going with Matt and you’ll be the backup.’ You have a lot of time to think in the offseason. … If that was a decision he was going to make, I was going to be fine with it – not happy, but I was going to keep my mouth shut and go to playing.

   But they wanted to go in another direction. It’s probably for the best. Whether or not I’d be a distraction, I don’t know. I certainly wouldn’t be one who was going to rock the boat. That’s not me. I don’t believe in that. But that’s a decision they made and I respect that decision.

   I thought about writing down who I wanted to thank, and this and that. But I wear my heart on sleeve and this is me. The reason it’s emotional is because you walk in here and all the faces and the relationships you have with guys, through the good and the bad, and it was a ton of good. That’s what you’re going to miss.

   Certainly I had those relationships with people when I left New Orleans. But naturally they’re a lot deeper here because we did some good things here. But – I know I’m rambling on – I apologize.

   I’m free to answer any questions. I’m sorry about rambling. But you know you have tears of joy and tears of sorrow. I promise you these are not tears of sorrow. I promise you this is not sorrow. This is more of the joy that I know of all the relationships that I’ve had with the people here and will continue to have.

   If I’m looking down, I apologize. There are some people in here if I look face-to-face, I’ll get even more emotional. Imagine that. So if you have any questions, I’ll be more than happy to babble out an answer for you.


   (Describe how you were blindsided?):

      I’ve been around a few years. You watch things. I’m not going to paint myself the victim of anything. A lot of people love to paint themselves the victim. Well, I’m not doing that. I didn’t play well last year. When Matt got an opportunity, he played outstanding. Matt knows how I feel. I told him how I felt when he was doing it. He and I have been in contact. We talked Monday afternoon out of the blue for a while. We’ve texted back and forth. I got a text in the middle of the night that I saw this morning from him.

   I didn’t play well last year. I’m disappointed about that. Why, I don’t know. I just didn’t do it. Now I have a fresh start. I’m a firm believer you never believe the grass is always greener. That’s just my belief.

   (But) this organization needs to go in a different direction and so do I.


   (Did you have lack confidence last year?)

   Yeah. I’ll tell you that. I did. When I play, I try to sling it around. Well, I wasn’t doing that last year. I was trying not to make the mistake. I don’t play that way. That’s not how I played when I first came here. That’s not how I’ve played through the 2008 season. But for some reason last year I played not to make the mistake. That doesn’t work for me, and I think things compounded and things weren’t going well. I just wanted to make it as right as possible. I just couldn’t do it.


   (How special was it to play the prime of y our career in a small market?)
   It’s hard to put into words. It really is. When I signed here in March of ’03, it was a chance to compete. Never dreamed we could go on and have some of the success (we did). We almost made it to the top of the mountain. We were there. We just couldn’t get it done. We were knocking on the door a couple of times after that. It’s tough, it’s hard to do that, but we gave it a good try to do that. These memories will last a lifetime. That’s why it’s hard, when you see a lot of these faces. There are still some I haven’t seen. It’s special.


   (What’s next for you?)
   I still want to play. I’m not ready to go home just yet. We’re going to let the weekend go by and just try to go from there. I have a feeling there will be some activity. We’re just going to let the weekend go by. Definitely, I’m not ready to go home and play with the horses full-time.


   (What was your highest high and lowest low?)
   As bad as the playoff game was against Arizona, the ’09 season was just low. I wasn’t myself. That’s disheartening.

   There were so many highs, so many of the last-second wins we had, just the way we did things in the locker room, and the way you saw certain guys develop and the relationships that you have with certain people. Another extreme high was going out to San Diego the first game of the ’08 season, the first game coming off the elbow (surgery), those are moments you cherish.

   But there are so many. The positive moments outweigh the bad 10-fold. Hey, that’s just society. That’s just the way it is. I’m a glass half-full guy. There have been a ton of fun times.


   (Did you talk to John and  Marty and try to talk them into you being just a backup?):

   I met with just John yesterday. That was kind of brought up. In all honesty, I don’t know if that would’ve worked. If I was here and I would’ve been the backup, I would not have rocked the boat. I would’ve just done whatever Matt needed me to do or other guys or what I felt needed to be done to help this team try to win. You just try to walk in after a football game with a smile on your face. I just think the decision that was made, a fresh start was probably best for both sides.


   (Have you talked to Steve Smith?):

   No. I’ve talked to some guys. I’m tired of texting. I promise you that much. I’ve talked to a bunch of people. My phone has been vibrating the whole time I’ve been sitting up here, too.


   (Did you meet with Mr. Richardson?):

   I talked to him yesterday afternoon. We had a good conversation. I hold my relationship close with him. I think I had a very special relationship with him. He’s a great man. He’s a friend I know I’ll always have.


   (Has the time gone by quickly?)
   It’s flown by. We moved here and my daughter was four months old. Now she’s a little past 7. Time has flown. It’s been great. It’s been fun. We made Charlotte our home, for the most part. People have been so welcoming to us. You’re going to miss all the relationships we’ve had. This place has been great. I’ve been out and about a good bit when I’m in the city with kids. I don’t hide. Even after this season, everybody you talk to, the support that I’ve had and the positive comments, I’ve never had one negative thing said. That does make you feel good.


   (Describe your time with Coach Fox yesterday)

   Very positive. It wasn’t very emotional. It was real positive. … We were both at ease, I think you could say. Certainly, a quarterback and coach are connected. I’m proud of the relationship we’ve had. I’m not leaving on bad terms.

   My horse racing silks have a Panther blue with black. I’m not changing my silks. I’m not doing it. This place has given me an opportunity. I’m always going to be a Carolina Cajun.


   (Given how competitive you are, how tough is it to walk away from here knowing how the ’08 playing game and ’09 season went?)

   It is. But not every script you write is going to have a happy ending. That’s life, man. Look, I’ve got to go find another job. But I’m so in the minority here. I don’t have to look for another job to help make ends meet by the end of this month. Let’s put it in perspective. That’s kind of how I look at it.


   (When you think back to all the passes  you’ve thrown, was there one that stands out that defined who you were?)
    Probably the first game I played here (against  Jacksonville), I was able to throw a pass to Ricky Proehl in the end zone. That was a play that was really special to me. We started that season with a to

uchdown to Ricky on that play and we ended it in the Super Bowl with a touchdown to Ricky on that play. He was just playing a different position. That one play in the Jacksonville game, I think that set the tone. But there have been many. But that, to me, was great.


   (Why did you feel it wouldn’t have worked for you to stay here as a backup?)

   If I’m back here and we’re going with Matt as the guy, I’m going to compete. But if something is not maybe going well one day or what not, you don’t want somebody looking over their shoulder. I’m not saying he would’ve at all. I just think it was probably best for everybody to maybe go in that direction.


   (Do you think the uncapped year is hurting older free agents?)

   The CBA has worked great for me, from 1997 when I was a rookie until now. I’ve done ok. It’s affecting some of the guys in their fourth, fifth and sixth years. It’s very different. Something is going to happen, I don’t know what. Guys truly understand your window of opportunity is so small in this league to make something happen. This is really uncharted waters this time.


   (If the opportunity doesn’t come for you to play, will you be ok with that?)
   I could be absolutely, but we’ll see.


   (How about going back to New Orleans to play and perhaps finish your career where it started, near home?)

   I don’t know. There are so many possibilities out there. We’ll see what happens. I’m certainly happy for that organization (for winning the Super Bowl). I have no ties to any coach there.

   I’m just going to let the weekend kind of soak in and see. Who knows?

   To leave Louisiana after I did after all those years and to come and find such a great place here, who’s to say there’s not another place we wouldn’t fall in love and establish some ties there also?


   (Have you heard from teams?)

   I think my agent has. We talked this morning. I wanted to get through today, and we’re going to let this weekend kind of go by. This is a different time. I don’t know if we’ll be in contact, him and I about that yet. We’re just going to try to let emotions keep on settling down. And when I say emotions, good emotions.


   (Who was the first person you called after you left Coach Fox’s office yesterday afternoon?)

   I knew before that. I went to meet my wife when I first found out about it, and we talked about it first. She’s a trooper. The good thing about her is she is ready to go. She said, `Wherever we need to go, we’ll go.’ That’s always a positive.


-- Charles Chandler


Posted by Observer Sports on March 5, 2010 at 03:29 PM | Permalink


Thanks for choosing to come to Carolina and taking us on a great ride, Jake! Your play and those 4th quarter comebacks electrified the stadium and fans from the first game on! I never took it for granted and always left the stadium reflecting on how special Panther fans had it. ALL the best to you and your family in the future.

Posted by: MissingJakeAlready | Mar 5, 2010 4:10:52 PM

Will Miss You Jake Delhomme!

Posted by: AKJoe | Mar 5, 2010 4:23:36 PM

What a terrible day, but what a great guy. We will miss you Jake. Thanks for everything.

Posted by: South Florida Panthers Fan Club | Mar 5, 2010 4:44:53 PM

I proudly own your jersey and you will always be one of the special Panthers for me. God bless you and thanks for everything!

Posted by: catchick | Mar 5, 2010 5:18:07 PM

Jake, you were the one Carolina player I knew would show up every time with fire in his eyes and grit in his soul! I wish you and your family all the best. You're a winner on and off the field and I can't thank you enough for being the team's leader during the best moments I have enjoyed as a Panthers' fan.

Posted by: Suzanne | Mar 5, 2010 5:52:56 PM

I have never posted anything ever anywhere but feel the need to express my respect for Jake. At training camp, after a hard practice he took the time to encourage young kids who could care less he was a big time NFL QB. In todays world of professional athletes it is refreshing to see genuine emotion and gratitude. Jake, you will always have a fan in my family following your career. Good Luck!

Posted by: tdhead | Mar 5, 2010 6:58:03 PM

Thanks for everything, Jake. That touchdown to Proehl in the Jacksonville game remains one of my favorite memories ever. I wish I could still find the video online with Bill R. calling the play and yelling, "HE GOT IT!" as Proehl pulled it down.

The Panthers have had better players than Jake, but have never had a classier one or a more likeable one. Hate to see the good times end, man.

Posted by: BullCityDog | Mar 5, 2010 8:14:43 PM

Jake, I will continue to wear the "17" jersey with great pride. I will miss you immensely. Good luck where ever you land. I know that you will land on your feet

Posted by: BLH2005WKH | Mar 5, 2010 8:36:57 PM

I think releasing Jake Delhomme was the absolute wrong decision and I certainly hope the final decision was not made in response to Vick's interest in our team. Are we forgetting that our QB took us to the Superbowl or that he has had some awesome seasons or that he took us to the Championship game last year? Is one, not so great, season worth losing someone we have put our faith in since 2003? This team belongs to the Carolinas...they are our players and feel like a part of our family and when we lose one, it is a hard thing to accept. The fans are not fair-weather fans; we are there through the good times and bad times. We defend our team against disparaging remarks with every fiber of our being. We stand in 100% support of them even when they have a tough game. We are TRUE fans because not only do we see ourselves as fans, we see ourselves as part of the team. When a part of our team is having a tough time, we do not desert our teammate. We stand beside that teammate, support and defend that teammate. I feel that we have lost part of the spirit of our team and that loss will be evident among the team when the season begins. Although I have the utmost faith in our quarterback, there were obviously some concerns in management about Jake's abilities. That being the case, the obvious choice would have been to move him to back-up instead of just giving up on someone who has put so much of himself into our team. The way he was treated is not, in ANY way, the way true Carolinians treat people and this is definitely not a reflection of what TRUE Carolina Panther fans want.

Posted by: Tammy Scott | Mar 5, 2010 9:20:56 PM


This is the better for the team... It is a sad day(hard for me to say that) in the history of the Panthers. However this was for the team and everyone who supports them... When a Momma Bird kicks her little one out of the nest, it's not to be cruel.. It is so they(Panthers) can grow! Right!!!!
Fellas sorry for that analogy, maybe a bad one...

Posted by: fox has to go!! | Mar 5, 2010 10:39:06 PM

I really like Jake as a person and it is a sad day BUT it was something that needed to be done. Matt needs to be THE MAN to everyone on the team and releasing Jake solidifies that standing. With all the years Jake has been the QB it would have been a distraction for the veterans to get totally behind Matt. I LOVE the direction the Panthers are going! YOUTH is served!!!

Posted by: tman | Mar 6, 2010 11:09:17 AM


Posted by: mamadou | Mar 6, 2010 2:32:57 PM

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