The Carolina Panthers are receiving some scrutiny for their collective reaction to the protest and demonstration climate in the NFL, with only Julius Peppers making a statement during Week 3's action by staying in the locker room. It is possible, perhaps even likely, the team was concerned about how any protests would be perceived.
According to cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, that is exactly the case. Munnerlyn, speaking with Frank Garcia of WFNZ via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer, said the team was "disappointed" in not doing much but also "scared" about how any demonstrations would be perceived.
"We didn't do much as a team. I think a lot of people were disappointed in that," Munnerlyn said. "I think we wanted to do more, but we didn't know how it would come down this being North Carolina, this being a military state. At the same time, I think a lot of people were scared on our team."
There are multiple reasons for why people might be scared about the response. For starters, North Carolina is not the most progressive state on the planet. There are many members of the military based in North Carolina; protesting during the anthem likely would have been received poorly. Protesting the national anthem in Charlotte is not easy.
And the Panthers players were still waiting on guidance from their owner, Jerry Richardson. Richardson was one of few owners not to issue a statement in betweenand kickoff on Sunday morning. The , who wanted to meet with Richardson about how to approach the pregame ceremonies moving forward.
Indeed, Munnerlyn confirmed that people were worried about Richardson's response.
"I think people were kind of scared to express that because how it would have made it look to the Big Cat," Munnerlyn added.
Richardson (known by the nickname "Big Cat") did eventually release a statement, saying that he believes politics should be taken out of football.
That put him in a very different spot from most of the Broncos GM/president in a statement Tuesday evening., although
According to Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond, the Panthers captains did meet with Richardson on Tuesday night
"Mr. Richardson invited captains and other team leaders to his home this afternoon, as he often does," Drummond said. "They discussed social issues affecting the League and solutions moving forward. As always, the conversations between Mr. Richardson and the players will remain private."
Jonathan Jones of SI.com reported that Peppers, along with the team captains, was also present.
The Panthers stand out as a team likely to make a statement during the Week 4 game in New England, although it is possible it will remain tempered depending on how the conversations with Richardson went.