Julius Peppers is more than just a Carolina Panthers legend..
Even if we didn’t see him on a regular weekly basis until last year’s return to Carolina, long-time Carolina Panthers fans have never lost any of the considerable appreciation they feel for what Julius Peppers has accomplished here.
When Peppers joined the Carolina Panthers there was every expectation that the defense would become a force capable of putting the team into another category of good. There was some truth to this as the Panthers went to the Super Bowl in 2003. That year, Steve Smith, Stephen Davis, Jake Delhomme et al lost to the New England Patriots 32-29.
Fan-wise, we’re certainly happy to have Mr. Peppers back (and considered a bargain at $2.5M base salary) and although shoulder surgery is a factor that’s kept him relatively inactive during training events thus far, coaches aren’t thinking they have to risk potential negatives by pushing the 37-year old veteran with reps before he’s totally cleared physically either.
While Bank of America stadium arguably saw the best years (2002-2009) of his career, after being the #2 overall pick out of UNC. He signed a six-year, $91.5M contract and left for four years with Chicago (37.5 sacks) and 25 more sacks in three years with Green Bay. Nobody ignores the fact of his 11 sacks which matched Mario Addison for the team high here in 2017. His assessment of this being the best defense he’s ever played on might be legitimate: Pepp had some numbers, but the Super Bowl team of 2003 only had 39 sacks . Even still, it had a plethora of hitters- including Reggie Howard, Dan Morgan, Kris Jenkins, Mike Minter, Mike Rucker and Will Witherspoon.
That was the core of Panther Pride. Over the last six years, the Carolina Panthers have regularly had fifty sacks.
It’s not just money or sacks—there is a pride and confidence this team has, knowing and trusting that Peppers the man will take proper care of whatever comes his way. Elementally that is a physical challenge, and sack-wise he’s had quite a career—154.5 puts him fourth in league record books. He doesn’t say much, but when Peppers stayed in the locker room before New Orleans game last September in protest against Trump’s anthem comments, Coach Rivera said plenty about respecting Peppers as a man of thoughtful actions.
Training camp is a little over two weeks away, and if there’s a ring or retirement at the end of this campaign, that’s not news that you’ll hear from Mr. Peppers, a man of actions.