Thursday, October 22, 2009

How Fake Sports Stories Take Hold

A couple of weeks ago there was a little mini controversy brewing in Carolina. You see Jon Beason went on a radio show and was asked about the lack of production from the normally dominant Julius Peppers. Here is what he said.

Beason said he watched the closing minutes of Minnesota's win over Green Bay Monday night, during which Vikings' defensive end Jared Allen had 4 1/2 sacks. It was the type of performance Panthers fans, and apparently teammates, want from Peppers.

Beason said he received a phone call late in the game from someone discussing Peppers, to which Beason said he responded "I'm going to have a conversation with that guy."

"The pressure is what you want to see, the intensity," Beason of Peppers.

Beason said his conversation "would be brief and to the point."

Beason said he wouldn't be looking to criticize, but rather to say, "I need you to be there with me. I need everything youv'e got. That's it in a nutshell."

Well guess what? After Beason made those comments Peppers has been on a tear! In the next two games (admittedly against lesser opponents) he had 12 tackles 4 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a tackle for a safety.

I know what you are thinking, Jon Beason needs to be a motivational speaker. Right? Right? I mean I even saw a few talking heads saying how effective his little talk to Peppers must have been. Or at the least just SAYING on the radio that he was going to call Peppers out must have been a huge motivator. I am willing to bet that if Peppers goes on to have another Pro Bowl season more than a few sports pundits will give at least some credit to Beason for "lighting a fire".

There is just one problem though. That isn't really what happened.

What ACTUALLY happened was that the Panthers put Peppers back over on the left hand side where he had previously been dominant since his rookie year. Last year they moved Peppers to right end to make up for the loss of long time starter Mike Rucker and by all means he had a really good year. Double digit sacks again and yet another trip to the Pro Bowl. But from my perspective he never truly looked comfortable over there this year. I don't know if he was seeing too much or what but he looked slower and not nearly explosive as if he was trying real hard to be perfect. But now that he is back on the left side the guy is absolutely wrecking shop. On one of the sacks this past Sunday against the Bucs he got double teamed by the tackle and the guard but he still ran threw them like they were swiss cheese.

Remarkably as of this evening I haven't heard one single sports pundit talk about him moving back to what I think is his more natural side as the reason for Peppers resurgence. But like I said the media generally won't let facts like that get in their way. They won't care that after the Redskins game Beason admitted he never spoke to Peppers about his intensity before the game. They won't care that Beason apologized for calling Peppers out on the radio. Its a much more exciting story if it seems like Beason went in and cracked the whip and all of a sudden Peppers just woke up.

So just pay attention for the rest of the year how sports pundits talk about Peppers play. Trust me on this, the guy is going to continue to dominate for the rest of the year lining up at left end. And the Panthers will probably be in contention for the playoffs before its all said and done.

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