Lucas: "I haven't been myself"

Ken Lucas, the starting cornerback for the Carolina Panthers, believes the controversy surrounding the comments he made after his team's 30-3 win over the New York Jets on Nov. 13 has adversely affected his play in recent weeks. "I haven't been myself," Lucas said Thursday. "It's even affected how I'm playing."

Up until Thursday, Lucas turned down interviews with reporters after he was labeled as a "trash talker" in a headline of a USA Today story. The whole thing began when Lucas said after the game that the Jets "quit." He later said he meant that that the Jets quit passing the ball, which was true.

In reality, both were true.

But the day after the game, things got blown out of proportion when Panthers coach John Fox called Jets coach Herman Edwards to apologize for Lucas' comments and explain them to his old college buddy.

All of the local papers in the Charlotte and New York areas carried the story the next day, and USA Today labeled Lucas as a "trash talker," something he said he has never been during his career.

"When they said I was trash talking, well, that's not me as a player and that is not my character," Lucas said.

Lucas said he received a letter from an angry Jets fan who pointed out that you shouldn't kick people when they're down. Lucas said the letter really bothered him. After that, he turned inward, closing himself off to those around him, including his new Panthers teammates, some of whom he's had trouble bonding with anyway since coming over from Seattle.

After praying and talking extensively with his mother, Lucas said he's now put the incident behind him.

"That is what made me upset," Lucas said. "I was trying to make the point that maybe we would have had more opportunities to make plays, but then they stopped passing the ball.

"My choice of words at the time didn't reflect that. It came out and they took it the way they wanted to take it. I kind of got upset about it. But I know that's the media's job and I have to respect that. But we have a big game coming up and I have to put that behind me."

Lucas said he vows to be more careful about his comments in the future.

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