It's all in the claws.
Chicago's theatrical 20-17 victory over rival Green Bay here on Monday night was a reminder.
"I still have a home near Charlotte," said Peppers, who spent eight seasons with the Panthers before making a $91.5 million-dollar free-agency leap to the Bears last March. "It was a heck of a ride there. No disrespect to Carolina, but we didn't play in these kind of games there. This is a real rivalry game that you can only get when two franchises have played against each other since the '20s, like these teams have. It was crazy out there, the intensity, the game, the crowd. I'm loving it.
"I have no doubt I made the right decision. It felt right. I followed my heart. I feel great about what we are doing. But I'm not stupid enough to think we are close to being great or done. Playing at the Giants on Sunday night is another big test for us. A big test in another big venue."
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Did Peppers simply follow the dollars? He gets $20 million this season and $42 million of his contract is guaranteed. Those were dollars the Panthers were not willing to give. That was their business. Peppers did his.
"It's all part of the business, the Panthers deciding to cut back at a time where the upcoming labor situation is an unknown factor," Peppers said. "This is part of the business model of the NFL for some teams. It was a tough time for this free-agency class, dealing with the unknowns, and I didn't know if I would be in the same boat. The waters were iffy. I feel lucky. I could have easily decided on Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington or a couple of other teams. Those three were closest in the running with the Bears.
"But once I met (coach) Lovie (Smith), it was all Lovie. We clicked. And once I took a tour around Halas Hall and saw all the history and their great players in the Hall of Fame, it felt like the place to be."
Once the Bears get him on the field, they find it difficult to yank him off it.
Peppers plays most of the defensive snaps and was a factor in the kicking game on Monday night. His block of a Green Bay 37-yard field goal try in the opening drive of the second half -- a 12-play, 86-yard Packers march to the Chicago 19 -- kept the Packers lead at 10-7 and help set the climate for the Bears' second-half rise to victory.
Many defensive linemen on field-goal attempts take that play off. It's a breather for them. You can tell a lot about a player's effort and character on how he approaches this work. Especially a veteran player.
Peppers turns 31 in January. He is that rare veteran player who joined a new team and had his bank account rejuvenated -- along with his fire. It is a splendid match for both. He makes the Bears a better team. He makes offensive tackles jittery. He makes offenses account for him. He often plays the game in backfield of those offenses.
It's not just his size -- 6-foot-7, 283 pounds -- or his power or quickness. His relentless competitiveness matches the best of the Bears traditions. His peers consider him "a beast."
Peppers says clawing is his nature.
"I'm getting up there in years and experience, and one of the ways I know that is the way my peers approach me now after games," Peppers said. "They give me a lot of respect. They have an appreciation for the way I play the game.
"I realize I have a lot of expectation and eyes on me because of my contract. But I would never make that my focus. I think your best pressure comes from within. You put that on yourself. Then you go out and perform."