Peppers comes up big after Bears fans' boos

Ryan Wood, USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin
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CHICAGO – Julius Peppers heard the boos from Chicago Bears fans Sunday after making a tackle in the first half.

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers (56)(56) stops Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) for a two-yard gain during the first quarter of their game Sunday, December 18, 2016 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Peppers played four seasons in Chicago, but the Bears released him after the 2013 season. He since has hammered home what figures to be a Hall of Fame career with three good seasons for the Green Bay Packers, remaining a productive player deep into his 30s.

After the game, it was suggested booing Peppers might be stupid given that the outside linebacker was released instead of departing as an unrestricted free agent.

“I wouldn’t say it was stupid,” Peppers said, “but I think it’s a little uncalled for.”

Then Peppers paused and considered his words.

“To be honest with you,” Peppers said, “I understand it. I can understand it. Guy who used to play for the Bears goes to Green Bay. Regardless of whether you get released or traded or you sign as a free agent, you went to the enemy. So I understand it.

“But I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. I can tell you that much.”

Peppers answered those boos in the second half. On the first play, Peppers beat Bears left tackle Charles Leno Jr. off the snap. He stripped the football from Bears quarterback Matt Barkley and recovered the fumble, giving the Packers possession at the Bears' 17-yard line.

“I’m not sure how much of a message it sent,” Peppers said, “but it was a timely play. I’ll admit that, but it was nice to come out in the second half and start the half fast. … It was good, but it wasn’t anything special.”

Sunday’s game was one month before Peppers’ 37th birthday, yet he’s still making splash plays. Peppers now has 7.5 sacks this season, including four in the past five weeks. He has 3.5 sacks against the Bears since joining the Packers, including 2.5 in his past two trips to Chicago.

Peppers certainly has made bigger plays in his career, but this one offered a response to boos from his former home fans.

“It’s a nice place to play,” Peppers said of Chicago. “I like the city. I love it. I love the city of Chicago, no question about it. So, yeah, I love coming down here and playing.”

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