Thursday, February 19, 2009

Today is the day--UPDATE below

The Carolina Panthers have to get their dealing done with LT Jordan Gross and DE Julius Peppers by 4pm this afternoon. As mentioned previously, the Panthers were close to a deal with Gross, but light years away from retaining Peppers. We'll congratulate the Panthers on retaining Gross once it gets done. About Peppers.....

As you may have seen, heard or read, he presented a list of 4 teams to the Panthers. Those teams represent where he would like to go. That means there are 27 other teams (28 if you count Carolina), that he doesn't want to play for. Thanks for narrowing the options for your rights holders, JP. Why not just tell management, "ummmm, guys? I want to go to New England, Pittsburgh, or...that's it. New England or Pittsburgh. Actually, just New England."

Before you start jumping on me, let me say this--I get it. I understand the players career window in pro sports is a short one. 10 years if you are VERY lucky. The average lifespan of an NFL career is under 3 years. These players have to take advantage of the opportunities when they can. I get it, and hold no ill feelings for them in that regard.

The part that has been lost in sports (and yeah, I'm waxing poetic now), is that the loyalty factor is gone. The player that spends his entire career with the same team is a rarity. Almost extinct. Mike Minter and Mike Rucker did so for the Panthers. Of course, you have to leave out the guys who have a "cup of coffee" in the bigs. Players that play more than, let's say 5-7 years, and are productive are the players I'm talking about. Peppers has been with the Panthers since day one. Right out of college. He's a fan favorite. And now, after his contract year of 14.5 sacks, he wants out, saying he wants to reach his fullest potential.

The Panthers stuck by him after his non-contract year of 2007. Defended him, saying he was contributing, even though his sack numbers (an honestly unfair way to judge performance of most defensive ends) were virtually non-existent. In 2007, he recorded 2.5 sacks. He began the year (in camp) with an illness, although no one would ever disclose what it was. If you saw the movie "Wayne's World," Wayne (Mike Myers), tells his girlfriend (Tia Carrera), "One time I thought I had mono(nucleosis) for an entire year, but it turns out I was really bored." That line sums up Peppers in 2007. I doubt he was sick all of 2007. Just bored, and going through the motions. In 2008, when he has to audition for every team in the league, he's Superman again, 14.5 sacks, forced fumbles, etc. Funny how that happened.

Peppers turned himself into a paycheck player. While that is good for some, it doesn't look good for a guy that team owner Jerry Richardson implored to step up and become a leader. This is not how leaders behave. Leaders stay in the fight, and keep swinging until they can't swing anymore.

So, if Peppers isn't a leader, that makes him a follower. And he is. He'll follow the biggest paycheck right out of town.

It's his right to do, but it's also the fans right to be bitter about it.

Good luck, Pepp, and thanks for the memories.

Mike Solarte

2 PM UPDATE--the Panthers got the Gross deal done, which reportedly makes him the highest paid offensive lineman in football. We've been hearing 6 years at $55 million total. Once we get the numbers, we'll pass them on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A "Wayne's World" quote! EXCELLEEEENT!