Julius Peppers Transcript Shouldn't Surprise Anyone

By John Gorman

Not because the grades are low. No, we’re not here to discuss the 1.84. Hell, I’ve gotten lower than a 1.84 in college before. Twice.

I’m not going to sit here and rip a fella for poor school performance. Especially since he was a two-sport athlete, and an excellent one at that, who’s gone on to make bazillions of dollars in a career he loves.

Not because it leaked. No, people have been leaking inflammatory stuff – especially on rival teams’ HQ – since forever ago, and it seems like the inflammatory nature of said leaks increases exponentially, as information access becomes easier and easier.

The Julius Peppers Transcript isn’t shocking in any way, because we all know what we’re doomed to receive when we talk about “athlete” and “leaked transcript:” dubious grades, sketchy (at best) coursework (what’s up, Independent Studies!), and patterns of help just-in-the-nick-of-time.

The Julius Peppers Transcript says he should have been on academic probation. Says he shouldn’t have been playing. But he played on; grades swept under the rug. Why?

The easy answer is, of course, “winning.” But that’s too short-sighted. As you can tell from Texas A&M’s odd jump to the SEC, Winning Isn’t Everything … It’s A Thing That’s Important But Not As Important As Playing Against Other Teams That Win.

No, the answer is “marketing,” and Julius Peppers and everyone else are the United States’ best-recognized unpaid interns – the only interns that are truly worth their weight in gold.

You see, Julius Peppers got people to talk about the University of North Carolina (a ‘public ivy’ with superlative academic tradition – full disclosure, I enrolled there once upon a yesteryear, right around the time Peppers was making a mess of his AFAM courses), during the basketball off-season. And that conversation leads to (what else?) money.

Merchandising. Television. Ticket Sales. Bowl Games. Endowments. Luxury Suites. More, more, more!

Money isn’t just currency. It just a means for that new, shiny building or that research center with all the bells and whistles … it’s the ends. It’s the high score you strive for. Money ain’t video game numbers, it’s the reality that frames all which exists. Julius Peppers playing ball, by whatever means necessary, was perfect for UNC. It made absolutely no financial sense for the school to suspend him from playing or drop him from school.

UNC promised Peppers, “Of course we’ll let you play, and we’ll give you all the leeway you need, and if you feel overworked, don’t you worry one bit.”

The courses came easier, the tutoring help came cheap, the grades were inflated or conveniently looked over.

I’m not saying Julius Peppers was lazy or remedial because he couldn’t find a way to snare some decent scores in class. He had other priorities which UNC encouraged him to pursue.

Because UNC’s priorities aligned too perfectly with Peppers’ goals: Keep playing, Julius. Play your way all the way to the NFL. If you need us, we’ll be giving a giant bear hug to this mountain of moolah you’ve built for us.

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