Jon Beason (left), Julius Peppers (right) and Hollis Thomas (center) watch a replay of Brad Hoover's failed touchdown run on the scoreboard Sunday. (Photo by John Clark)
CHARLOTTE – Jon Beason’s much-publicized heart-to-heart pep talk with teammate Julius Peppers never happened.
There’s a code in professional sports that if you have a problem with a teammate you talk to them first behind closed doors, and not take it to the media.
Beason said he realized he made a mistake when he called out Peppers last week on a local sports radio show and decided against talking to Peppers about playing with more intensity as he first planned.
"After what happened I realized I was wrong and there are certain things that you shouldn't say in the public and there are certain things that should remain in-house," Beason said Thursday on his weekly appearance on Primetime with the Packman on WFNZ-AM. "That is where I made my mistake. After I got a lot of negative pub(licity) from it I decided not to talk to (Peppers)... I shouldn't have said what I said and I decided not to talk to Pep afterward."
Beason, knowingly or not, broke that code when he talked about Peppers on the air.
“It's one of those things where you learn from your mistakes,” said linebacker Na’il Diggs, a nine-year NFL veteran. “I think the guys in here understood what he was saying and what he was trying to do, but there are certain times to do that and say that. He just picked the wrong time to do that.
“You have to be aware of the situation you're in. It just took that little bit to turn it into a big deal. He's learning. I think he does a great job with the (radio) show. There's always great topics to talk about, it just so happened he got pinned in that one. He's a very emotional player and he takes this game, this sport, very personally. I know for a fact he showed a little emotion at the wrong time and for the wrong people. That's something that you learn from.”
In other words, Beason didn’t really think about the impact of his words.
“Julius is not a hermit crab. He knows, he reads the papers,” Diggs said. “I'm sure there are all kinds of pressures from the outside, from the media, talking about him or whatever. He's been getting it all offseason, so I'm sure it's nothing new to him. He knows exactly what's out there. It doesn't need to be brought to light, underlined or highlighted. I think Jon, in all fairness, didn't really try to offend anybody or call anybody out.”
Defensive tackle Damione Lewis agreed.
“It’s one of those things that’s a real sensitive situation and he could have handled it a lot better,” Lewis said. “I think he knows that.”
Lewis, who spends a lot of time with Peppers in defensive line position meetings, said Peppers didn’t take offense to Beason’s remarks.
“(Peppers) knows he’s not going to say anything intentionally to bad mouth him or bash him,” Lewis said. “He knows how Jon is and he knows he didn’t mean to go out and attack his character or what type of player he is. He didn’t mean that. Not only was he talking about (number) 90, but he was talking about everybody else and himself. We have to go out and play better because we haven’t been playing well.”
Peppers hasn't spoken to the media since last week. He's coming off his most productive game of the season in Carolina's 20-17 win over Washington on Sunday with six tackles, two sacks and a hand in a safety on running back Clinton Portis, although linebacker Thomas Davis got credited for it on the stat sheet.
Beason didn’t talk to the local media this week and it remains unclear if he was called into coach John Fox’s office to talk about the comments he made on the air.
On the radio show last week Beason said he planned to talk with Peppers after watching Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen register 4.5 sacks, including one for a safety, in a dominating performance Monday night against the Green Bay Packers. He felt like Peppers could be just as dominating.
“I said, you know what, I’m going to sit down and have a conversation with that guy. I plan on it,” Beason told WFNZ-AM last week.
Beason, who has always thought very highly of Peppers as a football player, was careful not to criticize the four-time Pro Bowler, but made it pretty clear Peppers can be more productive with a little more effort, which in turn will make the entire Panthers defense more productive.
“If he goes out and gives me everything he has and fights for the time he’s in there I’ll be happy,” Beason told WFNZ-AM last week. “Because I know if he does that he might not be happy but the other three guys (on the line) might have a blast and Thomas (Davis) might have two sacks. You know what I mean? So much more can come, like more interceptions, from getting pressure on a quarterback (Jason Campbell) who is proven that he’s not that great when you get in his face. The pressure is what you want to see – the intensity. That’s a great word.”
Some forget that while Beason is one of the leaders on defense -- as well as a two-year captain -- this is only his third year in the league.
When asked if Beason’s inexperience might have something to do with his ill-advised remarks, Lewis replied, "Oh, I don’t know. Jon is a very passionate guy and he gets caught up in stuff.
“It’s not to say whether he’s a bad person or a good person in that aspect. He’s just a very passionate person and sometimes he says things that come across a little strong. He doesn’t mean it to be so strong, but sometimes it does (come across that way). It’s part of his personality. 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.”