The All-User Team: DL

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 01, 2005



By Cold, Hard Football Facts senior writer John Dudley
 
 
In determining the defensive scheme for the All-User Team, we had to consider our strengths – both natural and chemically enhanced. Given our beefed-up front, playing a 4-3 was the logical choice. There were numerous defensive linemen who could make "substantive" contributions to the squad, but we ultimately chose three Pro Bowlers and an 11-year veteran.
 
DE Julius Peppers
Peppers has wreaked havoc in the opponent's backfield since Carolina selected him as the second overall pick in the 2002 draft. With 12 sacks through the first 12 games of his rookie season, he was on pace to surpass Jevon Kearse's rookie record of 14.5. A violation of the league's substance-abuse policy, however, cost him the final four games...and probably a million dollars. He would have earned that amount as a bonus for making the Pro Bowl. 
 
Maybe it was a "rookie mistake." His agent said Peppers tested positive for a banned substance in a dietary supplement. Reading is not just fundamental; it also lets you find out what peppers the beverages you consume. You gotta check the ingredients, rook. Peppers did make his Pro Bowl debut after last season, when he was also named a first-team All-Pro. Entering his fourth year with the Panthers, he has started 36 straight games since his suspension, including four in the postseason.
 
DEFENSIVE STATS 
 
Year
 
Team
 
Games
 
Tackles
 
Sacks
 
INTs
Fumb.
Forced
Fumb.
Rec.
Passes
Def.
2002
Carolina
12
35
12
1
5
0
4
2003
Carolina
16
44
7
0
3
0
3
2004
Carolina
16
64
11
2
4
1
7
TOTALS
 
44
143
30.0
3
12
1
14
 
DE Leonard Little
Little's transgression during his rookie year with the Rams was far more egregious. Following a night of drinking at his 24th birthday party in October of 1998, he ran a red light in downtown St. Louis and caused a fatal accident. The other driver in the two-vehicle collision, 47-year-old Susan Gutweiler, was killed. Little eventually pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, four years' probation and 1,000 hours of community service. For violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, he received an eight-game suspension.
 
Little was named to the Pro Bowl following the 2003 season, when he recorded 12.5 sacks, but more alcohol-related problems soon followed. After being pulled over for speeding in April 2004, he failed three sobriety tests and was arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Classified as a persistent offender, Little was charged with a felony, casting a dark cloud of doubt over his future – both in the league and in society. At a trial earlier this year, he was somehow found not guilty of the drunk-driving charge and only convicted of speeding. His sentence of six months in jail was suspended under the condition that he does not consume any alcohol during his two-year probationary period. You would think killing somebody would have been sobering enough. Despite his checkered past, Little will be playing his eighth season with the Rams this fall.
 
DEFENSIVE STATS
 
Year
 
Team
 
Games
 
Tackles
 
Sacks
 
INTs
Fumb.
Forced
Fumb.
Rec.
Passes
Def.
1998
St. Louis
6
7
0.5
0
0
0
0
1999
St. Louis
6
8
0
0
0
0
0
2000
St. Louis
14
25
5
0
1
0
1
2001
St. Louis
13
33
14.5
0
2
1
0
2002
St. Louis
16
44
12
0
9
1
0
2003
St. Louis
12
47
12.5
1
6
1
0
2004
St. Louis
16
46
7
0
1
4
2
TOTALS
 
83
210
51.5
1
19
7
3
 
DT Darrell Russell
Oakland made Russell the second overall pick in the 1997 draft, and he paid dividends almost immediately. He was selected to the Pro Bowl after both his second and third seasons, when he registered 10 and 9.5 sacks, respectively. He then began registering failed drug tests, too. Russell's initial violation came in 2001, resulting in a suspension for the first four games that season. He subsequently tested positive for the drug Ecstasy and was suspended for one calendar year starting Jan. 2, 2002. A month later, he was accused of slipping the "date-rape drug" GHB into a woman's drink and videotaping two of his friends sexually assaulting her. He was also picked up for DUI in August of that year.
 
Russell's troubling off-field behavior prompted commissioner Paul Tagliabue to extend his suspension by three months. The defensive tackle eventually returned and played part of the 2003 season with Washington before signing with Tampa Bay. Upon failing yet another drug test, he was suspended indefinitely. Just last week, Russell's suspension was lifted by the NFL, so he is now free to sign with any team. Who wouldn't want a player who has had a mere seven infractions of the league's substance-abuse policy? Given Russell's immense talent, it won't be a surprise to see somebody give him a shot...at least as the team videographer.
 
DEFENSIVE STATS
 
Year
 
Team
 
Games
 
Tackles
 
Sacks
 
INTs
Fumb.
Forced
Fumb.
Rec.
Passes
Def.
1997
Oakland
16
43
3.5
0
1
0
6
1998
Oakland
16
63
10
0
3
1
2
1999
Oakland
16
43
9.5
0
0
1
4
2000
Oakland
16
33
3
0
1
1
7
2001
Oakland
11
41
2.5
1
0
0
3
2002
Oakland
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2003
Washington
8
6
0
0
1
0
0
2004
Tampa Bay
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
TOTALS
 
83
229
28.5
1
6
3
22
 
DT Brentson Buckner
The 6'2", 310-pound Buckner was a heavy favorite to round out our indomitable d-line. After bouncing around to three teams in his first five years, he has planted his fleshy frame in Carolina, helping to solidify a stout run defense that has been, by and large, one of the league's best. In his second season with the team, however, he was suspended for four games for running afoul of the league's steroids policy.
 
According to his agent, the violation occurred when Buckner took an all-natural diet pill before training camp. It supposedly contained one of the NFL's banned substances. That sounds believable, right? You see, when you're a waif like Buckner, you're very concerned about maintaining your angular appearance. You want to be sure that your football pants flatter your figure. Dieting is just part of the routine. Is it your fault if some of those organic products contain anabolic substances that inadvertently build muscle mass? Buckner will be rolling into his 12th season and fifth with the Panthers.
 
DEFENSIVE STATS
 
Year
 
Team
 
Games
 
Tackles
 
Sacks
 
INTs
Fumb.
Forced
Fumb.
Rec.
Passes
Def.
1994
Pittsburgh
13
18
2
0
0
1
2
1995
Pittsburgh
16
46
3
0
1
1
1
1996
Pittsburgh
15
36
3
0
0
1
4
1997
Cincinnati
14
37
0
0
2
0
0
1998
San Fran.
13
16
0.5
0
0
1
3
1999
San Fran.
16
44
1
0
0
0
4
2000
San Fran.
16
55
7
0
0
0
3
2001
Carolina
16
37
4.5
1
1
1
2
2002
Carolina
12
32
5
0
0
1
5
2003
Carolina
12
22
0.5
0
1
0
2
2004
Carolina
15
41
3.5
1
1
0
3
TOTALS
 
158
384
30.0
2
6
6
29
 
Monday, Sept. 5: linebackers

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