Jabrill Peppers apologizes for critical mic’d up moment
To anybody who has watched the New England Patriots this year, it’s not breaking news the team hasn’t been very good. They’re currently 2-9, and can officially be eliminated from playoff contention this weekend with over a month still to go in the season.
However, it was surprising to see/hear one of the players admit it themselves. That was what happened last week, when the NFL released a mic’d up clip of safety Jabrill Peppers following Sunday’s 10-7 loss to the New York Giants.
After the game ended, Peppers went to greet Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who he was teammates with in New York. Peppers said to Barkley, “you lucky we ass,” referring to the state of the team.
Following practice on Friday, Peppers spoke to the media for the first time since that video was released. Over his three-plus minute apology Peppers took responsibility for the comment, and mentioned some other things about the video as well. Here’s his comments in full, because the full answer is worth seeing/hearing.
“First of all, I just want to apologize to my teammates and the coaches for even having to answer questions about that. We’ve got more important things to worry about than me being caught on a hot mic. But, at the end of the day, we’re 2-9. We’ve got a top five pick in the draft that didn’t come through a trade. We all know the standard, we all know what it’s supposed to look like, and it’s not that right now. It’s not a shot at anybody in the locker room, I said ‘we.’ We own that, I own that. We have good players – great players in the locker room but every team has great players. There’s great parity across the league and if those great players aren’t executing, then that team isn’t a good team. That doesn’t speak to the character of everybody in this locker room. We’ve got to come to work willing and ready to do whatever we can to help this team win. The ball just hasn’t been rolling in our favor and that’s on one one but us. The coaches do a hell of a job the week in and week out with the game plan and put us in the right position to make plays and when the opportunity comes to execute at a consistent enough level in all phases of the game. We’ve got one of the best coaches to ever coach. He comes in, week after week, tells us what we have to do to win this game, who we have to stop, how we have to go about business, and time and time again, week after week it comes up in the game exactly how he said it, we don’t capitalize on our opportunities. It’s frustrating, just it’s frustrating for all the guys. I’m a professional, so things like that should never happen. No need to blame anyone but myself. It’s my seventh year in the league, I’m 28 years old and I know better. That was a little frustration. I know I’m smiling, but I was very, very angry. That’s one that I wanted. But at the end of the day we’re not going to get it done right now. We all know that. But we’ve got six more opportunities to go out there and try to build momentum riding into next year. And who knows, the AFC is wide open right now. We take care of business how we’re supposed to take care of business, who knows? But that only starts week in and week out and that starts with the Chargers this Sunday. So I want to apologize again man, because I never want to be a distraction. We’ve got enough things to worry about around here. I’m trying to be a guy to go out there and lead by example, play hard down in and down, out. But like I said, we all know that. I want to be a part of the solution. So, it is what it is. The guys in here, they know me. They know I speak my mind and I’m honest. I got caught on a hot mic man. That’s how it was. I didn’t even give Saquon a chance to tell me. But, I don’t think it was right that they put that out because there’s a lot of things said on that football field, and I know there’s multiple people mic’d up game in and game out that they don’t put out that. That was kind of – I was kind of taken aback by that. But at the end of the day, I own that. I own everything I say and I’m not running from it. This Sunday, we’ve got a chance to go out there, build momentum, and get this bad taste out of our mouth and that’s what we’re going to do.”
As a follow-up, Peppers was asked if he discussed the comment with the team. Again, he gave an extensive answer…
They know me. I’m from Jersey, so I’m going to speak my mind, man. We know we’re not getting it done right now. And it pisses me off because we’re not getting it done for Bill [Belichick]. When the team’s doing well, the players get all the credit. They do a great job coming into the week in and and week out, giving us a great game plan. It’s up to the players to execute. As professionals we get paid to produce, we don’t just get paid to play football. We get paid to produce. None of us here is on scholarship and we know we have a job to do. The standards are high here – the type of football that the people of New England are accustomed to seeing, people anywhere are accustomed to seeing from the Patriots, we’re not living up to that. We’re working, we’ve got six more weeks to right this ship and build some momentum and that’s what we’re going to do.
Peppers owning up to the comment is notable. Not only did he speak to the media about it, but he had the Patriots’ PR staff inform reporters ahead of time that he would be speaking at his locker on Friday. Peppers has been good about speaking to the media this year prior to this, but his extended comments went, in my opinion, above and beyond what realistically needed to be said. Throughout the season Peppers, in his second year in New England, has emerged as a leader, and this was another example of that.
It also felt like the apology, especially the part coming after the follow-up question, was as much for the state of the team as it was about his comments on the state of the team. This isn’t the first time Peppers has talked about letting the coaching staff and Bill Belichick in particular down, either. Despite the tough season, he’s remained bought in on the program.
Finally, Peppers made a fair point about the NFL using that sound-bite. There’s expected to be a level of respect for mic’d up players, which the NFL seemingly violated here.
On Sunday, we’ll see if and how Peppers comments impact his standing with the team. Will his role change at all? That will be something to watch for. For more main storylines in Sunday’s game, keep reading below…