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Derek Anderson nearly 'gave up' on football in 2009

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- On Monday evening, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was the center of attention under the hot lights of Opening Night.

A stone's throw away, and facing far less scrutiny, stood his No. 2 man, Derek Anderson.

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The 32-year-old signal-caller is days away from suiting up for Super Bowl 50, but he told Around The NFL just how close to he came to leaving football entirely after flaming out with the Cleveland Browns.

"I just was done. Mentally, I wasn't in a very good place," Anderson said, describing how he sat in his car one day after the 2009 season and pondered retirement. "I was done with it. I'd dealt with some things off the field. On the field, it wasn't great, and I really just kind of gave up on what got me to where I was."

It grew no easier in 2010, with Anderson tumbling to a 2-7 record as a one-year starter for a bad Arizona Cardinals team. Then came the NFL lockout and more questions about where his career was headed.

In another example of how connections dominate the National Football League, it was Rob Chudzinski -- who served as Cleveland's offensive coordinator during Anderson's run with the Browns before taking over as the Panthers' play-caller in 2011 -- who offered the quarterback new life.

"I had a conversation with (Chud) before I signed and he said, 'Hey, I know I can get you back to playing how you're capable of. Come here, let's do this, let's do it right.' The confidence he had in me, to have me here and to bring me here and to help Cam was something that, at that point, I needed," said Anderson.

"And even when I got here five years ago, I wasn't in the best shape of my life. But when I got here, I realized there was a special group of guys here, and it really motivated me to prepare and continue."

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