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Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Defensive end Julius Peppers, who has a long history of not saying very much, spoke at length in a conference call with media members Saturday afternoon.
Thanks to Steve Reed for the entire transcript.
Peppers spoke for about 20 minutes and backed up the reports that he wants to leave the Carolina Panthers. Peppers didn't cite any specific reason for his desire to leave North Carolina, where he was born, raised, went to college and has spent his entire career. There had been some speculation that Peppers simply wants to try playing somewhere else.
"Really it's not about that,'' Peppers said. "If I was to sit here and say that had nothing to do with it, that wouldn't be the truth. But it's not as big of a deal as people think it is. It's more about me getting to a point to where I'm happy and I'm comfortable with how my career is going. Carolina is home for me and always will be home, even if I do leave. It's home. It's not as much about that as you may think.”
Peppers also was asked what he would like to say to Carolina fans and this might have been the most telling part of the whole interview.
"Basically the fan support has been tremendous,'' Peppers said. "Basically what I would say to these people is you have to take the emotional part of it out and place yourself in the situation. If you were being held back at your job and you fulfilled your contract and all of the obligations you had contractually and did all of the things you were supposed to do and worked seven years and it was time for that contract to expire and you wanted to do something different, and you were told, 'You did all of that, but you still have to stay.' I don't think people would be willing to live under those same standards that they want to place on me. So what I say is put yourself in my shoes and look at the situation instead of being emotional about it.”
The Panthers have to decide if they will franchise Peppers or offensive tackle Jordan Gross before the end of next week. Peppers was very realistic when asked how the Panthers should handle that situation.
"First of all it if was my decision basically this is what I would do: Jordan Gross has came out and stated that he wants an extension,'' Peppers said. "We have one player who says he does want to stay and one player who wants to move on and try something different. I would try to accommodate the guy who wants to be there as the number one priority.''