On Julius Peppers' attitude

The blazingly fast Peppers has gotten an unfair reputation for taking plays off. J. Meric/Getty Images

During the NFL playoffs, Football Scientist K.C. Joyner wrote a series of "Contrarian Thoughts" pieces, debunking common assumptions. He applies the concept now to free agency.

Pete Rozelle once said that when you live in the limelight, you have to keep in mind the following rule: Character is what you are, and reputation is what people think you are.

That mind-set is especially useful when considering the Bears' acquisition of free-agent superstar defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers' elite skill level is well known, but he also has a reputation as a hot-and-cold player who alternates between going all out and taking some plays off.

This idea got started after Peppers' subpar 2007 season, when he had a career low in sacks (2.5) and his second-lowest tackle total (38). The fan reaction to this was so intense that I wrote the following in "Scientific Football 2008":