Beason says he was “wrong” to call out Panthers teammate Peppers for lack of production

By Mike Cranston, AP
Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beason says he was “wrong” to call out Peppers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jon Beason apologized Thursday for calling out Carolina teammate Julius Peppers for his lack of production last week, even after the Panthers responded with their first win.

“After what happened, I realized I was wrong,” Beason said on radio station WFNZ. “There are certain things you shouldn’t say in public, certain things that should remain in-house. That’s where I made my mistake.”

After avoiding reporters in the locker room for nearly a week, the Pro Bowl linebacker said in his paid radio appearance that he never talked to Peppers after saying on the same station last week that “I’m going to have a conversation with that guy.”

Peppers, a four-time Pro Bowl choice making an NFL-high $16.7 million salary this season, had just one sack and 10 tackles in Carolina’s 0-3 start. Beason last week said a teammate called him after Minnesota’s Jared Allen got 4½ sacks in a Monday night game, and Beason vowed to tell Peppers that “I need everything you’ve got.”

The Panthers then beat Washington 20-17 Sunday for their first victory of the season. Peppers had two sacks and made a key play to force a safety. Beason added a team-high 10 tackles, but the team’s best defensive effort of the season apparently wasn’t the result of any conversation.

“After I got a lot of negative pub from it, I decided not to even talk to him,” Beason said.

Peppers, who rarely speaks to reporters, has declined interview requests since the incident. But Beason’s teammates said Thursday that Beason shouldn’t have discussed the issue publicly.

“We all know there are certain things not to talk about, but when you’re put in a situation and especially when you’re 0-3 at that time, that’s a sensitive subject to a lot of people,” linebacker Na’il Diggs said. “Unfortunately, he made a couple quotes I’m sure he would take back. … Nobody is holding anything against him.”

Beason, Carolina’s first-round pick in 2007, has led the team in tackles in each of the past two seasons. He’s been known for a fiery attitude and was voted a defensive captain by his teammates.

“Jon is a good person,” defensive tackle Damione Lewis said. “He really cares about the team and cares how we perform and cares how each individual performs, which he should being a leader and the heartbeat of our defense. That’s his role. It’s totally understand where he was coming from, but it could have been handled in a different manner.”

The issue took off because Peppers’ effort has been questioned in the past and he’s coming off an offseason where he tried to leave Carolina. Peppers, the franchise’s career leader with 73½ sacks, said after last season that he would never sign a long-term deal with the Panthers and pleaded to be allowed to leave in free agency.

The Panthers placed the restrictive franchise tag on him anyway, and Peppers skipped all offseason workouts before relenting and signing his guaranteed deal, which takes up about 14 percent of the salary cap.

Peppers had a sack in a 38-10 loss to Philadelphia, but did little the next two weeks as Carolina got off to its worst start since 1998.

But Peppers had four tackles, two for a loss, three quarterback hurries and two sacks against the Redskins.

Beason on Thursday called Peppers a “true pro,” while his teammates said it’s not an issue in the locker room.

“He’s just a very passionate person and sometimes he says things that come across a little strong,” Lewis said of Beason. “We all know him and know how he is so I know none of us took offense to what he said because we know him. I think it got played out of proportion.”

NOTES: TE Dante Rosario missed practice Thursday after twisting his ankle a day earlier. … WR Steve Smith (knee) was listed as limited. … RB Jonathan Stewart (Achilles’ tendon) practiced after sitting out Wednesday. … The Panthers held a second straight workout in a cold rain, moving to their artificial turf field. … S Chris Harris said his left knee has held up fine after playing his first game Sunday. … Coach John Fox called last season’s Monday night win over Tampa Bay one of those “defining games.”

will not be displayed