Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hey, Peppers, would $37 help??

I had an odd, touching conversation with my nine-year-old son about Julius Peppers’ departure from the Panthers this week. (I write about that departure today in this column, and why the Panthers still need to spend all that money they just saved).

Salem is the most sports-minded of our four children – heavily involved in both playing and watching sports. He doesn’t follow offseason news, though. Contracts, possible labor strikes – all that totally bores him. He just likes the games and cheers for all the local teams.

So he was stunned when his older brother told him Tuesday that Julius Peppers wasn’t going to be a Panther anymore. Salem likes Peppers, both for his multi-sport talent and because Peppers is the tallest Panther.

Salem often plays some sort of game on his bed that he made up and I don’t quite understand. It has to do with these oversized football cards that Panther mascot Sir Purr gave every kid at his school one time. It’s kind of like a version of the card game “War,” and Peppers always ranks as the most powerful card.

Anyway, he asked me why Peppers was leaving, and I told him that the Panthers and Peppers could never agree on how much Peppers should get paid to play for Carolina, so he was going to go somewhere else to play instead. I told him about Peppers’ “million dollars per game” contract of 2009, too, but numbers like that are a little beyond the comprehension of a nine-year-old. Shoot, they’re beyond my comprehension.

A few hours later, Salem came up to me while I was writing today's column on my laptop, and said:
“I wish I could give Julius all of my money.”
“Julius who?” I asked absentmindedly.
“Julius Peppers,” he said.
“Why?”
“Because maybe then he’d still play for the Panthers.”
Oh.
I turned away from the laptop and faced him.
“How much money do you have?” I asked.
“Thirty-seven dollars,” Salem said, his face solemn.

I didn’t really know what to say to that. I told him some of the same things you probably would have in the same situation. I didn’t make a joke about it – “Oh, yeah, why don’t you give me the $37 and I’ll make sure and give it to Julius the next time I see him so he can fill up his gas tank on the way out of town” – because he was so serious.

I’m not saying that Peppers shouldn’t get a chance to play elsewhere after eight years in a Carolina uniform.

But it’s easy to forget sometimes all the little ripples a decision like this one has. All the No.90 jerseys in closets all over the Carolinas that will never be worn again. And all of the third-graders in the Carolinas with $37 stuck in a clear mason jar in their room, ready to give all of it up for one more chance to see someone they admire play one more time for the home team.

31 comments:

Brandon said...

To fill up Julius's ride, you'd probably need over $100.

Still, a touching sentiment from a good hearted fan towards an undeserving athlete.

Anonymous said...

Shameful to try to steal a kids money. Dont worry it will go to him and others like him one way or another since outrageous salaries are paid in the grocery clothing or toy stores with tv ads etc.

Anonymous said...

How did Peppers get into UNC-CH? He has difficulty stringing together even a basic sentence. Good riddance!

Anonymous said...

I think it's time Salem learned his Mickey Mantle lesson.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1DhjFKNT0Q&feature=related

Deborah said...

What a great article to read today! I wish the world could view itself from young kids eyes. We would be in a much better place. Gone are the days of players staying on teams because of Love of the game, instead it's for the love of money. Sad to say, Peppers will get to another team and not do so well as he did here. The grass is not always green on the other side and players need to learn that too!!!!

Anonymous said...

Please that is garbage and has nothing to do with Peppers whatsoever.

Micky Mantle was the Babe Ruth of the 50s and 60s and idolized by NYC and America.

Films rewrite history. Nobody disliked Mantle including the media who adored him like they did Ruth.

Anonymous said...

from the mouths of babes...

Anonymous said...

The point was that kids need to learn that pro sports is an entertainment business; not something to invest a lot of emotion into. It was true then, and it's true now. Pep doesn't care about that kid nearly as much as the kids cares about Pep. He can start to learn that at age 9.

Have fun with it, cheer for the teams you like and admire their athletiscism. But it needs to be kept in perspective.

Anonymous said...

Buy your kid a Jon Beason jersey and make him a tape of all the plays Peppers took off...Shame on your for allowing your child to get this far in life thinking Peppers is worth his $37.

Anonymous said...

You Panthers' Fans suck, you guys love Peppers up until he said, he wanted to play on a defense that best suit his talent. I hope the Panthers never win anything, and in a few years you are going to have that problem with Beason, and then watch how you'll turn on him!! FAIR WEATHER FANS!

Anonymous said...

That's not what your girlfriend said last night. chump.

Anonymous said...

I'm in for $37.00. He is fun to watch (especially when he is on like against the Vikings-Made Brett Favre think about retiring during the game), never gets in touble and is never hurt. He is one of the few D players that will win 3-4 games a year all by himself.

Anonymous said...

You named your kid Salem? What's the other kid's name Winston?

Scott said...

Great story of innocence, Scott. No doubt Pep's departure will have all kinds of hidden effects...not the least of which is some depth on this team!!!

Haywood Jablowmi said...

He'd better go hide that cash before Obama and the Dems take it from him!

Anonymous said...

Everyone be real. Peppers- two sport athlete in UNC. Goes pro in football. Getting older. What is next to conclude his career? A ring! He wants to win a superbowl and knows the Panthers leadership decisions will not let him. Maybe he thinks what a lot of people think but won't say. GET A NEW QB!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Mr. Fowler, the story you wrote hit home for me and my son. My son Will (9 Years old) was totally devastated when I told him Tuesday about Julius Peppers leaving. He took his #90 Jersey, the one he wore every Friday to school here in Georgia before a Panthers game and said now what? I told him we move on just like Julius did, we pull for our Panthers and support the players that want to play for us as fans. Needless to say, he is wanting a new jersey so I guess we will retire the JP jerseys we both have and I will get him a DeAngelo Williams jersey. It is tough for a kid his age to grasp the whole situation involving millions of dollars though I do get the feeling he understands what loyalty now is.

v/r

John

Anonymous said...

Salem, excellent name.

Anonymous said...

john and scott,

if your kids are devastated by a football player....you need to reinstitute some true values in your family.

let the kids know it is a GAME.

that being said, let them know that jake stinketh.

Brian said...

Julius Peppers is a great athlete and should go somewhere else if that's what he wants. He has had many good years here and as for his high salary, he is what his agent and the team made him: an overpaid pro athlete. Stop acting like he is something unique in terms of his salary and his desire to leave. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count how many pro players fall into those categories. The Panthers will go on and will be just fine. So will Julius Peppers. As for the fans, well, get over it! I have....

carolinahomer said...

Some harsh words by some a hole adults that have forgotten what it was like to follow sports as a child. I remember crying, when the heels lost the acc title game, I was seven. My dad gave me a hug a said it would be okay...guess what, it was. Anyway I will miss Peppers and I am sure we could have signed him to 13 or 14 million a year. And to scott, I am not a big fan of yours but you handled the situation the right way.

Anonymous said...

I assure you we have excellent values in my house hold. I will not apologize for an innocent appreciation of a hometown hero to most. I didn't say we worshiped JP for there is only one God. We had a great admiration for him as an athlete from North Carolina playing for the Carolina Panthers to which we are fans. If for some reason you are so uptight to "appreciate" the gifts of others you my friend lack true value.

v/r

John

Kenneth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thanks, Scott, for such a heartfelt story from a young person's point of view. We'll miss Peppers for sure, but with a price tag that high and with the knowledge that he wanted to move on I wish him the best. I had the opportunity to meet him briefly once at Cheesy Moe's and he was very polite and had his nose tilted at a normal angle. Much can be said for that.

Tim said...

would of been a great parent teaching moment Scott... on "greed"

Anonymous said...

90% of the posts to this blog missed the point totally of this article. I have never seen such anger and hurt. I think Panthers fans, myself included, are hurt because we have only for the 2nd time in history, a player who wants to leave (Jenkins being the other). I am one of the few who doesnt resent Peppers. It's business. Enjoy the players while their here and enjoy the players that will come in after. Stop taking this so personally and attacking Peppers as a person, its childish. The hatred that is spewed on these message boards towards Pepppers is so embarassing as a diehard Panther fan. Also keep in mind, there are 2 sides to every story.

i143amy said...

How can you not get emotional over this? He is a homegrown hero, who could have become something truly grate. My 6 year old is really upset, he was last year too, because Peppers has always been his favorite Panther. Me, I kinda feel like a guy does after his girl dumps him. I know there someone else out there eventually, but man this sucks. To think, who ever signs him to $20 mill is gonna make way more than that much back from his jersey sales alone!

Anonymous said...

Hes not gonna get signed for 20 mill a year. Geez people

Jimmy57 said...

Hey Scott,
The best piece of writing I have read in a while. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Hey Scott. I love the name Salem. You had better be glad that I can't respond to all those comments you received. I would have to break my Lent promise. Frances