Please Julius Peppers, Anywhere But New England
Ever since Julius Peppers first announced he wanted out of Carolina, I have slowly come to accept the possibility that he could be wearing another team's uniform.
Ideally I would like to see him change his mind, play at least another 10 years for the Panthers, win a few Lombardi trophies in the process, and join Steve Smith as the first two Panthers inducted into the Hall of Fame; but we all know how slim those chances are.
There has been talk about him playing for the Cowboys or Eagles, or one of the other teams on his "list". However, talk about dealing him to the Patriots has heated up as we get closer to the start of the regular season.
Most sports fans have at some point had to deal with a star player leaving town for a number of different reasons. Whether it's more money, a better situation, the chance to win a title, or to "reach their potential." When a fan-favorite bolts for greener pastures, there are basically three different situations that can happen from a fan's perspective:
The player can be equally effective on his or her new team and the new team achieves success party due to the player's performance, or the player underachieves or has trouble adapting to a new scheme, and falls out of the spotlight as the new team doesn't perform up to expectations.
The second one, while some may not admit it, is the most satisfying to witness as a fan of the star player's old team. The third one however, is a fan's worst nightmare.
Let's say your girlfriend dumps you, for no other reason than she doesn't like you that much anymore and wants to date someone else.
A few months later you run into her in a bar or a restaurant or some other public place; she's either put on a bunch of weight and is dating a guy who has no job and lives with his parents, or she looks better than ever and is dating a wealthy doctor who models and run triathlons in his spare time.
The point I'm getting at, (trust me there is one) is that the New England Patriots are the wealthy doctor.
I don't know exactly what it is with the Patriots. Maybe it's Bill Belichick, maybe it's Tom Brady, or the fact that they're always a contender, and a very realistic one at that. Whatever it is, players in recent years seem to reach another level when they sign with them.
The best example of this is Randy Moss. Rescued from Oakland, he resurrected his career in New England. A lot of people say he just needed to play for a winning team again, but I think it was more than that.
He didn't just become a great receiver again, he gained something that he arguably never had anywhere else, not even in Minnesota. He had drive, motivation, a killer instinct. He KNEW he was going to one of the top receivers in the game again, and nothing could stop him. He made headlines for all the right reasons, and stayed out of trouble. He was a perfect fit and a perfect target for Tom Brady.
While he was setting records and helping the Pats to a 16-0 regular season, fans in Minnesota and Oakland were throwing up a little bit in their mouths.
Corey Dillon went from a locker room cancer with character issues in Cincinnati, to a dedicated team player and Super Bowl champion in New England. Wes Welker went from a guy who was cut by the Chargers, to a special teams player in Miami, to almost a household name in New England. You could argue that players such as Rodney Harrison went from "good" to "great" upon arrival in Foxboro. Even aging stars such as Junior Seau have been brought in and been able to contribute at a level no one thought they still had left in them.
Julius Peppers has been labeled an "athletic freak" many times throughout his career. One can only assume that his freakish athleticism will translate into a long NFL career, and I'm sure he has plenty of years of dominant football left in his tank.
Of course there have been questions about his desire, and he has been known to take plays off, but all that speculation could disappear if he became a Patriot.
I could see him going from "great" to "legendary" if he signed with New England. That is something I really don't want to see. I don't want to see the words "legendary" or "record-breaking" or "Hall of Fame" in the same sentence as "Julius Peppers", unless of course "Carolina Panthers" is somewhere in that same sentence.
Before you accuse me of being bitter, this isn't a Kevin Garnett-like situation. A lot of fans in Minneapolis were happy to see Garnett capture that elusive championship in Boston.
Peppers isn't stuck in a terrible situation or being dragged down by a perennial loser. He is surrounded by talent, and he has a legitimate chance to bring success to his hometown team.
This brings us back to that third situation. The star player moves to another team, only to find that the grass really IS greener on the other side. The star player goes on to win multiple championships with his new team and go down as one of the greatest players ever.
Don't do it Julius, please. Sign with Detroit, or Oakland, or even Tampa Bay, anywhere but New England.
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