NFL news of December 3, 2002

The best rookie season in Carolina Panthers history came to a premature end Tuesday.

As expected, defensive end Julius Peppers was suspended for the season’s final four games for a violation of the NFL’s policy on anabolic steroids and related substances…Numerous league sources have said it was a weight-loss stimulant, similar to ephedra or ephedrine.

…The suspension will cost Peppers $235,000 in base salary, but the penalties might not end there. He has a $1 million bonus clause in his contract for making the Pro Bowl this season, and his contract, which runs through 2008, has up to $11 million in incentives tied to his total Pro Bowl selections. His contract also features a $100,000 bonus if he’s the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Although it would appear the suspension might hurt his chances at both honors, that’s not necessarily the case. In the most recently released results of fan balloting for the Pro Bowl, Peppers led all NFC defensive ends.

—Pat Yasinskas, The Charlotte Observer “Peppers’ season ends as rookie begins suspension.”
Julius Pepper was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year for his 12-game 2002 season, but missed the Pro Bowl.

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