Friday, October 9

Carolina Panthers: A Cry for Help

Last night Panthers linebacker Jon Beason was on WFNZ's Primetime and had some pointed comments about the effort of fellow captain Julius Peppers. When asked about Jared Allen's performance on Monday Night Football, Beason outlined receiving a call from a teammate and how different the passion Allen plays with is in comparison to Peppers. He refused to identify Pep by name, but it was painfully clear. Beason plans to have dinner with 90 tonight and have a "heart to heart" with the big fella. This was not a player popping off about another, but a cry for help. The Panthers and his defense need him to perform if they hope to have any measure of success this season.

Peppers has long been known in these parts as an enigma that was difficult to reach and this seems like a desperate plea by a desperate leader. Beason and every other member of the team needs to be on the same page and when the highest paid player on the team refuses to try it justifies lackadaisical effort from every other player. As it stands now, 90 has just seven solo tackles, one sack and no tackles for loss. By comparison, WR Steve Smith has three solo tackles. Peppers defenders will point to his lack of interest in playing here, a point he made abundantly clear at the start of the last off-season. It cannot be forgotten, however, that Pep and his agent, Carl Carey, handcuffed the organization by refusing to sign the franchise tender. NFL rules prevented the Panthers from pursuing a trade for him until he signed the tender, which he did not do until the last possible second, past the NFL draft and well into the free agency period. He made the choice to make trading him impossible and he gladly deposits his $1 million dollar checks each week, so expecting him to perform and to help out his teammates is not asking too much.

Critics and analysts were all over Brandon Marshall for his stunt in practice, but as recently as this Sunday, when the team needed a play made, Marshall made it. We've previously asked if Peppers off-season behavior was worse than TO's and here we are again, comparing him to another immature diva receiver and Pep's pitiful performance is far more embarrassing and immature than Marshall's because he's doing it on game day.

On the flip side, there are plenty of critics upset at Beason for choosing a public forum to air dirty laundry, but again this was not calling someone out because of personal differences, this was a cry for help. For many Panther fans, they feel vindicated and relieved that finally someone in the organization has acknowledged exactly what they (we) have felt for the last year. Instead of toeing the company line someone finally broke ranks and spoke up for all the fans as well as all the players who are busting their tail and putting their bodies on the line in that locker room. It will be intriguing to hear the reception Beason gets on Sunday, but also how the other nine players on defense respond. If they come out with fire and a renewed dedication to tackling, can we not assume that Beas was saying exactly what the other players were thinking? Peps lack of passion has been the white elephant in the room for months and finally someone spoke up and perhaps now this team can focus on playing instead of being quietly frustrated that one of their captains is hanging them out to dry.

Hear the entire interview.

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