Sad to hear of the retirement from the NFL of former Ole Miss defensive lineman Peria Jerry.
Details around his decision will likely trickle out later. They haven’t yet. They will be good enough reasons for Jerry, and he won’t care what others think. A first-round pick in 2009, Jerry struggled with injuries early on. He started 14 games last year and finished with a career-high 3.5 sacks.
I’ve never covered a player with more passion than Peria Jerry played with in 2008.
Houston Nutt’s first Ole Miss squad became a very good team by season’s end. The beginning was rough. The Rebels were unable to close out games against a ranked Wake Forest team on the road and against Vanderbilt at home. They stunned Tim Tebow and No. 4 Florida but followed that the next week with a home loss against unranked South Carolina.
In the middle of the season that team could have gone either way. Jerry was one of its most vocal leaders. I can remember our media group watching and listening from a distance as he stood encircled by his teammates after practice one day and told them how things were going to be. He hated to lose and had not been part of a winning team at Ole Miss.
We weren’t close enough to hear his address that day, but it was long and intense. I don’t remember the exact timing of that speech, but the 2008 team closed with six straight wins after following the South Carolina loss with a 24-20 loss at No. 2 Alabama. The Rebels played from behind much of that day in Tuscaloosa but did have the ball with a shot to win at the end.
Jerry was second the team with seven sacks that season — Greg Hardy had 8.5 — but Jerry had 18 tackles for loss.