Chicago Sun-Times

What kind of reception will Julius Peppers get Sunday?

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I had a fascinating conversation with a financial advisor from Bank of America here in Charlotte while eating at BlackFinn Saloon yesterday for lunch.

I asked Steve Lang if Peppers would get booed at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, and he had an interesting perspective.

First some background: Lang grew up in Rochester, N.Y., where he was a fan of the Buffalo Bills. He's been in Charlotte for about eight years, and he attends a handful of Panthers games each season.

He's appalled by what he calls a "wine and cheese crowd," noting that fans can get escorted out of the stadium for swearing or removing their shirt.

"It's not football," Lang said. "The fans care, but there's a disconnect. I understand it's a family event, but when you go up north, it seems to be tolerated."

Lang recalled when he traveled to Baltimore for a Panthers-Ravens game in 2006 with others from Bank of America. They were wearing Panthers gear, and one Ravens fan laid into them.

"They couldn't believe someone would tell them, 'The Panthers [expletive] suck,' " Lang said.

It wasn't the Southern hospitality they were used to.

Which brings me back to my original point: so how will Peppers be received?

Former Panthers Frank Garcia and Brentson Buckner both expect him to get booed, and receiver Steve Smith could care less ("It doesn't matter. The fans that receive him aren't the ones that have to block him or get tackled by him," he said).

But Lang had the best answer.

"It'll be a boo with a golf clap."

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I get so annoyed when these NYers come down here and say it was so much better back home. Steve Lang is not a PSL owner and is not qualified to make a comment. I am a PSL owner and can tell you that fans are just as passionate about the Panthers as the Buffalo fans are. Sure we are not allowed to take off our shirts but who wants to do that anyway. Does showing our areola's mean you are a better fan?
Peppers will get booed because he wanted to leave us and because he took plays off, quarters off, and even a year off. It all went south when the owner called him out to be a leader. Peppers will never be a leader. Put him with a strong leader and he will flourish. Will we throw batteries at him? No because we are not in Philadelphia.

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