Of the 22-minute teleconference Julius Peppers held with several reporters Saturday, I thought his most interesting quote was this one.
Said Peppers, in response to a question about what he would tell the many fans who bought No.90 jerseys and have cheered him for years:
"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,” said Peppers. “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.”
I wasn't on the teleconference, but I thought this quote was the most insightful one Peppers offered in trying to explain why he wants to bolt Carolina. Look closely at 3 parts of the quote.
1) "If you were being held back at your job...." So, obviously, Peppers believes he has been held back here -- although he refuses to go into specifics. No love lost, though, I don't think from reading this, between Peppers and coach John Fox.
2) 'You've fulfilled what you're supposed to do, but you've still got to stay.' Here's where Peppers was appealing to the common man. Who hasn't had a job they have wanted to leave -- ASAP? Of course, if someone is going to pay you millions to stay -- perhaps even over $16 million for just one more year -- you might have a change of heart. Peppers wisely left out the money part.
3) "Put yourself in my shoes and look at my situation instead of being emotional about it." One thing you can say about Peppers -- he's very rarely emotional. Hardly ever. It's the sort of attitude that can be a blessing or a curse in life and in sports. He never punches teammates, but he also rarely inspires anyone to follow him anywhere.
I'm glad Peppers talked about all this Saturday himself -- he needed to do that. I didn't learn a lot about him from his quotes, however, except this -- he's gone. He hasn't made this decision in a hurry, and he's not going to stray from it.
If the Panthers franchise him, I would bet you anything Peppers won't show up for minicamps, for training camp, for workouts at the stadium... nothing. He's determined to leave. And he doesn't want to be "emotional" about it -- although he's not going to stop thousands of other people from being that way, no matter how hard he tries.