Panthers players, management to meet after tepid owner statement

In the hours and days after President Donald Trump blasted the NFL and its players, virtually every NFL team offered up some form of statement supporting its players and, to a greater or lesser degree, rebuking the president. Some referred to the president by name, while others praised players’ rights to speak their minds. And then came the Carolina Panthers, one of the very last teams to release a statement. The result made mayo on white bread seem spicy:

“We are proud of the men we have on this football team. Our players have been active and impactful participants in making our community stronger,” team owner Jerry Richardson said in the statement. “From the first time I stepped into an NFL locker room at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore in 1959, I have lived and seen the sport’s ability to bring people of all backgrounds together. Politicizing the game is damaging and takes the focus off the greatness of the game itself and those who play it.”

No mention of the protests. No mention of players’ rights to their own voice. No serious pushback against the president’s sharp condemnations of both protesting players and the NFL as an organization.

In addition, head coach Ron Rivera told his team prior to Sunday’s game that he expected them to “stand, look at the flag and be at attention,” rather than protest in any way. The Panthers stood as normal during the anthem, with only defensive end Julius Peppers in the locker room.

As a result of both of those statements, the Charlotte Observer is reporting that players are seeking to meet with the team to help the Panthers step into what is now the mainstream of social awareness in the NFL.

“I think the one thing that we know most is this community, this organization, supports everybody in this locker room and the things that we do in the community. It’s amazing how many lives we’ve been able to touch and change,” safety Kurt Coleman said. “We’re trying to change lives over here. And I think [social change] is another subject we want to continue to bring to light and help change for the better.”

Charlotte was the source of riots last year following a police shooting, and two players who openly protested afterward, Tre Boston and Marcus Ball, are no longer with the team.

Jerry Richardson. (AP)

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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