Peppers at the 2013 Pro Bowl.
No. 90 Chicago Bears
|Date of birth:January 18, 1980|
|Place of birth: Wilson, North Carolina|
|High school: Bailey (NC) Southern Nash|
|College: North Carolina|
|NFL Draft: 2002 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2|
|Debuted in 2002 for the Carolina Panthers|
|Roster status: Active|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 17, 2012
|Stats at pro-football-reference.com|
Julius Frazier Peppers (born January 18, 1980), nicknamed The Freak Of Nature, is an American football defensive end for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of North Carolina, and was recognized as an All-American. The Carolina Panthers selected him with the second overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft where he played his first eight seasons.
Early years 
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 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 and Edgecombe) area.
College career 
Peppers attended the University of North Carolina, where he played defensive end for the North Carolina Tar Heels football team from 1998 to 2001. As a true freshman in 1998, he was redshirted. Peppers led the entire nation with 15 quarterback sacks during his sophomore season (2000), and earned first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and second-team All-American honors. Following his junior season in 2001, he was a first-team All-ACC selection, and was recognized as a unanimous first-team All-American. He also 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. In the three seasons at North Carolina, Peppers started 33 of the 34 games in which he played. 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, 5 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, 5 forced fumbles, 13 passes deflected, and 42 quarterback pressures (hurries) and returned 2 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery for touchdowns.
While at the University of North Carolina, Peppers was also a walk-on member of the men's basketball team. The 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 reserve on the 1999-2000 Tar Heels team that made it to the Final Four. Peppers was also a 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 did not play basketball in his final season.
In August 2012, a transcript was found on the University of North Carolina website, which allegedly belonged to Peppers. Peppers had apparently taken classes in AFAM (African American and Afro-American studies). According to the transcript, Peppers had D's and F's in 11 classes, as well as a 1.08 grade point average; players on the football team must have a GPA above 1.9 to be eligible. Peppers, meanwhile, had a 2.16 on AFAM classes. Peppers later confirmed that the transcript was his, and stated that there was "no academic fraud". Peppers later donated $250,000 to the school.
College Football Awards and honors 
- Sporting News Freshman All-American (1999)
- First-team All-ACC (2000)
- Second-team Associated Press All-American (2000)
- Second-team Football News All-American (2000)
- Division I-A sacks leader (2000)
- First-team All-ACC (2001)
- Consensus first-team All-American (2001)
- Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist (2001)
- Chuck Bednarik Award (2001)
- Bill Willis Trophy (2001)
- Lombardi Award (2001)
Professional career 
Carolina Panthers 
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP|
|6 ft 6 in||283 lb||34⅛ in||10 in||4.74 s|
|Measurables taken at NFL Scouting Combine|
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 made an immediate impact and was named The NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press. Peppers also during his rookie season helped the Panthers boast the only defensive unit since the NFL merger in 1970 to improve from last in the League in total defense to second in one season. During his rookie season, Peppers tallied 35 tackles, 12 sacks, 1 interception, 5 passes defended, and 5 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.
In 2003, during the Panthers' Super Bowl run, he had 44 tackles, seven sacks, and three forced fumbles. The next year, Peppers was selected to his first ever Pro Bowl with 64 tackles, 11 sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles, and two touchdowns. On October 15, 2006, Peppers became the Panthers' all-time sacks leader, a record that he still holds with a total of 81.
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 13 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, 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.
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. 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.
Chicago Bears 
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. 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 fifty four 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 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 making him the twenty eighth player in NFL history to achieve that milestone. For his efforts Peppers was elected to the 2012 Pro Bowl for his fourth consecutive year. In the 2012 season, Peppers played with plantar fasciitis, though he was able to record 11.5 sacks in the season, becoming the first Bears player to record ten sacks or more in back-to-back years since Rosevelt Colvin. He was named to the 2013 Pro Bowl, his fifth consecutive, and was also selected to the 2012 All-Pro Second Team.
NFL awards and honors 
- NFL Rookie of the Month (10/02)
- 2002 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
- Pro Football Weekly All-Rookie Team (2002)
- 2004 NFL Alumni Defensive Lineman of the Year
- 2004 NFC Defensive Player of the Year
- 2013 Brian Piccolo Award
- NFL 2000's All Decade Team
- 100 Sacks Club
- 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 NFC Pro Bowl
- 2004, 2006, 2010 All-Pro First Team
- 2008, 2009, 2012 All-Pro Second Team
- Four time NFC Defensive Player of the Month (11/2004, 10/2006, 11/2010, 11/2011)
- Five time NFC Defensive Player of the Week (11/13/06, 11/9/08, 11/1/09, 11/18/10,12/23/12)
Panthers franchise records 
- Most career sacks (81)
- Most career forced fumbles (30)
- Longest Interception return: 97 (vs. Denver Broncos 10/10/04)
NFL records and accomplishments 
- Most interception return yards by a defensive lineman in NFL history: 178 yds
- Most interception return yards in a single season by a defensive lineman in NFL history: 143 yds
- Longest interception return by a defensive lineman in NFL history: 97 yds
- Most interception return yards in a single game by a defensive lineman in NFL history: 97 yds
- Most combined interception and fumble return yards by a defensive lineman in a single season since NFL merger in 1970: 203 yds
- Eighteenth most sacks in NFL history: 111.5
- Tied for tenth most forced fumbles in NFL history: 37
- Tied for second most interceptions by a defensive lineman in NFL history: 8
- Third most passes defensed by a defensive lineman in NFL history: 59
- Second most blocked kicks in NFL history: 13
- Tied for fifth most double digit sack seasons in NFL history: 8
- Tied for fourth most games with at least three sacks: 9
- Tied for fifteenth most multiple sack games in NFL history: 28
Career statistics 
GP:Games played/ TACK:Total tackles/ SOLO:Solo tackles/ AST:Assisted tackles/ SACK:Sacks/ FF:Forced fumbles/ FR:Fumble recoveries/ YDS:Fumbles recovered yards/ TD:Fumbles returned for touchdowns/ INT:Interceptions/ YDS:Interceptions returned yards/ LNG:Longest interception return/ TD:Interceptions returned for touchdowns/ PD:Passes defensed/ SFTY:Safeties/ STF:Stuffs/ KB:Blocked kicks (field goals, extra points, and punts)
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 Kurney, 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."
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 also referenced in the Cyhi Da Prynce song "Chance To Explain".
- Mayer, Larry (2013-04-23). "Three Bears receive prestigious Piccolo Awards". Chicago Bears. Retrieved 2013-04-23.
- 2011 NCAA Football Records Book, Award Winners, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis, Indiana, p. 11 (2011). Retrieved June 24, 2012.
- Carter, Andrew (2012-08-17). "Transcript shows low hurdles for UNC athletes to stay eligible". CharlotteObserver.com. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
- Press, Associated (2012-07-29). "Julius Peppers confirms transcript was posted on UNC site". BostonHerald.com. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
- "Peppers makes big donation to UNC". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
- "PRO FOOTBALL; Peppers To Serve Four-Game Suspension". 2002-12-04. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
- "The new sack king in Carolina". 2006-10-18. Retrieved 2008-12-17.
- "Panthers Statistics". Retrieved 14 March 2012.
- "Four Panthers make Pro Bowl". 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2008-12-17.[dead link]
- "-No title-". CharlotteObserver.com. Retrieved 2010-12-20.[dead link]
- "Peppers gets franchise tag". 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
- "Schefter tweets that Panthers will not Franchise Peppers". 2010-02-22. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
- Clayton, John. "Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears finalize deal". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2010-03-05. Text "2010-03-05 " ignored (help)
- "NFL gives Peppers another half sack". Chicagobears.com. 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2012-08-21.
- Wright, Michael C. (2012-12-25). "Stock Watch: Peppers' healthy effort". ESPN. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- Mayer, Larry (2012-12-26). "Five Bears players voted to Pro Bowl". Chicago Bears. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- Rosenthal, Gregg (2012-12-26). "2013 Pro Bowl roster analysis: NFC". National Football League. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- "Julius Peppers' father arrested". Retrieved 8 November 2012.
- "Julius Peppers' charge". CarolinaFan.com. 2001-07-29. Retrieved 2010-12-20.
- Julius Peppers North Carolina Tar Heels team profile
- Julius Peppers Carolina Panthers team profile
- Julius Peppers Chicago Bears team profile
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