- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Julius Peppers hasn’t seen a full-court press since he was playing basketball at the University of North Carolina. But he’s seeing one in the middle of the early morning hours Friday.
It’s coming from the Chicago Bears, who appear to be the early leader to sweep Peppers away from the Carolina Panthers, the only team Peppers ever has played for. Peppers has made it clear he wants out of Carolina and the Bears are rolling out red carpets.
The Chicago Tribune reports Bears coach Lovie Smith arrived in Charlotte and will accompany Peppers back to Chicago for his official visit later Friday. Look for the Panthers to try to not let Peppers out of the building without agreeing to a contract.
Peppers has implied he never felt he could reach his potential with the Panthers and there long have been conflicts with the coaching staff. The Bears are going to try to use Smith’s personality and the reputation of defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to convince Peppers that Chicago is the place where he can reach that potential.
It also doesn’t hurt that Chicago is a major market and the Bears have superstars like Brian Urlacher and lightning rods like Jay Cutler to draw media attention from Peppers. It also doesn’t hurt that Chicago has plenty of other sports stars. Part of Peppers’ problem in Carolina was that he didn’t like being under the magnifying glass that came with being a local guy and the face of the franchise.