Julius Peppers: My Worst Nightmare Coming True in Carolina

for NFLSportChannel.com

Published: September 30, 2009

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... was John Fox's first draft pick as head coach of the Carolina Panthers. The city of Charlotte, already excited about having George Seifert out of town and the prospects of Fox turning the franchise around, were ecstatic when then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that the Panthers had selected the University of North Carolina's own Julius Peppers with the second pick in the 2002 draft.

The love affair continued through Peppers' spectacular rookie season. "Pep" tallied 36 tackles, 12 sacks, five forced fumbles, and an interception on his way to earning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He accomplished all of this in 12 games.

Peppers was suspended the for the last four games of the 2002 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Peppers insisted that the reason for the positive test was linked to a diet supplement he was given by a friend, and Panthers fans—for the most part—believed him. As then-defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said, "J...

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