Julius Peppers
Julius Peppers Bears vs Raiders
Julius Peppers in game vs. Raiders, 2011
Carolina PanthersNo. 90
Date of Birth: January 18 1980 (1980-01-18) (age 39)
Place of Birth: Wilson, North Carolina, U.S.
Height: 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)Weight: 295 lb (134 kg)
National Football League debut
2002 for the Carolina Panthers
Career Highlights and Awards
Career History
High School: Southern Nash High School
Bailey, North Carolina
College: North Carolina
NFL Draft: 2002 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Career stats to date
Tackles     674
Quarterback sacks     150.0
Interceptions     11
Forced fumbles     48
Stats at

Julius Frazier Peppers (born January 18, 1980) is an American football defensive end for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of North Carolina, and earned All-American honors. He was drafted by the Carolina Panthers second overall in the 2002 NFL Draft, and has played professionally for the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.

Early yearsEdit

The youngest of three siblings, Peppers was born in Wilson, North Carolina, and raised in nearby Bailey. By the time he was a freshman at Bailey's Southern Nash Senior High School, Peppers had grown to 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m), 225 lb (102 kg). Ray Davis, the football coach at Southern Nash, felt that Peppers would be an asset on the gridiron for the Firebirds, despite the fact that Peppers had never played football before. Davis' gamble would pay off. During his high school career, Peppers played running back and defensive lineman, finished his career with 3,501 rushing yards and 46 touchdowns, and was one of the most dangerous defensive linemen in the state. He also lettered in basketball and was voted All-Conference as a power forward for four consecutive years. In 1998, Southern Nash won the state championship in track and field for the first time in the school's history. Peppers contributed as a sprinter, winning the state championship in the 4×200 meter team relay and as a triple jumper. During his senior year (1997–98), he was named to the Parade magazine high school All-America team in football as an all-purpose talent and was also named Male Athlete of the Year by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. In 2005, Peppers was named by the Rocky Mount Telegram newspaper as one of the 50 Greatest Athletes from the Twin County (Nash County, and Edgecombe County) North Carolina areas.

College careerEdit


Peppers attended the University of North Carolina, where he played defensive end for the North Carolina Tar Heels football team. He was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American, and won the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation's top defensive player and the Lombardi Award as the best collegiate lineman and the Bill Willis Trophy as the nation's best defensive lineman. Peppers redshirted his freshman season. Peppers led the entire nation in sacks with 15 his sophomore season. In the three seasons at North Carolina, Peppers started 33 of the 34 games he played in. He is currently ranked second all-time in UNC history with 30.5 sacks. He accumulated 53 stops behind the line of scrimmage, 167 tackles, five interceptions, two fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles, 13 passes deflected, and 43 quarterback pressures (hurries) and returned two interceptions and one fumble recovery for touchdowns.

Awards and honorsEdit


While at the University of North Carolina, Peppers was also a walk-on member of the men's basketball team. One of the main reasons he chose UNC over Duke (he was heavily recruited by Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski to play basketball for Duke) was that Carolina football coach, Carl Torbush, said he could play football and then be a walk-on for Bill Guthridge on the UNC men's basketball team. He was a key reserve on the 1999-2000 Tar Heels team that made it to the Final Four. Peppers was also a key reserve on the 2000-2001 men's basketball team. In the NCAA Tournament, Peppers scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a loss to Penn State in the second round. After the season, Peppers decided to focus solely on football and academics and did not play basketball in his final season.

Professional careerEdit

Carolina PanthersEdit

In the 2002 NFL Draft, Peppers was selected by the Carolina Panthers as the second overall pick behind first overall pick, quarterback David Carr. Peppers ran a 4.68 40-yard dash at 290 pounds (Expression error: Unexpected < operator. kg) and completed 22 bench press reps at his pro day. Peppers made an immediate impact and was named The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press. During his rookie season, Peppers tallied 36 tackles, 12 sacks, 1 interception, and 6 forced fumbles. On October 13, 2002, Peppers became only the third player in NFL history to amass three sacks and an interception in the same game. With four games remaining in the season, Peppers was suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy for taking a banned dietary supplement.[1]

In 2003, during the Panthers' Super Bowl run, he had 46 tackles, seven sacks, and three forced fumbles. The next year, Peppers was selected to his first ever Pro Bowl with 65 tackles, 11 sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles, and two touchdowns. On October 15, 2006, Peppers became the Panthers' all-time sacks leader,[2] a record that he still holds with a total of 81.[3]

Peppers is known as one of the most athletic and versatile players in the NFL, his freakish athleticism earned him the nickname, "The Freak of Nature". In his career, Peppers has 12 blocked kicks (extra points and field goal attempts) ranking second all time in NFL history. Peppers has had double-digit sacks in all but three seasons. In 2008, Julius Peppers was voted to the 2009 Pro Bowl,[4] where he recorded an interception.

Following Mike Minter's retirement, Peppers was named as the Panthers defensive captain. He and Donovan McNabb are the only people to ever play in both the NCAA men's basketball Final Four and the NFL's Super Bowl.[5]

On January 16, 2009, ESPN reported that Peppers told ESPN's Chris Mortensen he did not intend to re-sign a long-term deal with the Carolina Panthers and would like to explore options with another team, specifically one with a 3-4 defensive formation. He also expressed the desire or willingness to convert from a defensive end to an outside linebacker. Peppers said he would request a trade if franchise tagged. However, despite his request, the Panthers would place the Franchise tag on him on February 19.[6] On February 22, 2010, Adam Schefter reported that the Panthers would not place the franchise tag on Peppers, leaving him an unrestricted free agent, free to pursue a contract with another team.[7]

Chicago BearsEdit

On March 5, 2010, the Chicago Bears signed Peppers to a six-year contract worth $91.5 million, with $42 million guaranteed in the first three years.[8] Peppers made an immediate impact in Week 1 vs. the Detroit Lions. He forced a Matthew Stafford fumble with 29 seconds to go in the first half. The strip-sack also injured Stafford. In Week 5, Peppers went back home to play the Carolina Panthers. His biggest play of the game was when he tipped a Jimmy Clausen pass and proceeded to intercept it, by diving underneath the ball. He finished the year with forty-three tackles, eight sacks and two interceptions. His impact was most felt with regards to putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, redirecting running plays, or assisting on the tackle. Peppers finished fourth in voting for the NFL's 2010 AP Defensive Player of the Year Award, which was won by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

Peppers improved on his 2010 season in 2011 starting all 16 games and leading the Bears defense with 11 sacks despite constantly facing constant double teams, while collecting 37 tackles (33 solo), and forcing 3 fumbles. Peppers was awarded the NFC Defensive player of the month award for November as he collected 6 tackles, 4 sacks, and 3 pass breakups. In Week 17 facing the Vikings, Peppers was awarded a .5 sack by the league, that he originally split with Matt Toeaina, giving him his 100th career sack.[9] For his efforts Peppers was elected to the 2012 Pro Bowl his fourth consecutive.

NFL awards and honorsEdit

  • NFL Rookies of the Month (10/02)
  • 2002 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • 2004 NFL Alumni Defensive Lineman of the Year
  • 2004 NFC Defensive Player of the Year
  • NFL 2000's All Decade Team
  • 100 Sacks Club
  • 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 NFC Pro Bowl
  • 2004, 2006, 2010 All-Pro First Team
  • 2008, 2009 All-Pro Second Team
  • Four time NFC Defensive Player of the Month (11/2004, 10/2006, 11/2010, 11/2011)
  • Four time NFC Defensive Player of the Week (11/13/06, 11/9/08, 11/1/09, 11/18/10)


Peppers was born to Bessie Brinkley, who gave Julius the last name of her second husband. Peppers has stated that he is not close with his father, George Kearney, stating "We weren't tight. I mean, I didn't call him up all the time, nothing like that. It was kind of awkward, and it still is now. I can't really get into depth with him in conversation. I really don't feel comfortable talking to him like that. I just don't."[10]

In February 2009, Peppers donated $500,000 to a scholarship program that supports black students at his alma mater of North Carolina. Peppers's donation will go to the Light on the Hill Society Scholarship, a tribute to UNC's earliest black graduates. It helps alumni and friends support black freshmen who show the potential for academic excellence at UNC and after they graduate.

Peppers is referenced in the Nelly song "Heart of a Champion", and made a cameo appearance in Nelly's video "Hot In Herre" at approximately 1:37 and 1:59.

Peppers is also referenced in the Cyhi Da Prynce song "Chance To Explain".


External linksEdit

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