Panthers safety Mike Minter bowed out with class today after 10-years in the organization. His was an emotional press conference this afternoon and you could tell the entire organization respects him and vice versa.
So it was exceedingly odd to see Jerry Richardson take the opportunity of Minter’s retirement to publicly call out Julius Peppers and ask for more leadership from him. Panthers beat writer Pat Yasinskas also took note of Richardson’s words, which is another surprise as I firmly expected this little odd turn to get buried like so much dicey Panther info does in this town.
The obvious question — and I assume Yaz is busy trying to get it answered — is how has Pep, to this point, fallen short of Richardson’s standards for leadership?
Peppers has never been a rah-rah guy. Never. To expect him to be at this late date seems more than a little daft coming from the Big Cat. Then there is the matter of Peppers’ new contract — he’s due for one, a big one. We are talking $12 million a year as a baseline for a top DE.
Is Jerry saying that if Peppers wants that kind of money he’ll have to assume more responsibility as the face of the franchise? Is the owner upset that Peppers has missed practice time with an ill-defined “illness” recently? Or has Peppers crossed some secret Richardson bright-line of loyalty like Bill Rosinski or Keyshawn Johnson did?
Richardson is going to have to spell out exactly what he meant now that he has raised the issue of Pep’s leadership — or lack thereof — in such a public and didactic way.