The Panthers and Eagles game could be called chippy, but that would be a gross understatement of what happened in this matchup between two defensive NFC heavyweights. And there might be protest issues at the center of the in-game fighting between the squads, with Eric Reid and Malcolm Jenkins personal feelings taking center stage.
Here's the confrontation that occurred before the game, as captured by FOX cameras.
There are many who speculated that the two might have been going at it because of their different beliefs on how to handle making a statement during the national anthem. Reid was the first player to join Colin Kaepernick in taking a knee on the sideline; he was Kap's teammate on the 49ers at the time and joined the quarterback.
Jenkins is a prominent figure in terms of social activism. Reid believes Jenkins sold out the players by meeting with the NFL to find a way to compromise on the anthem policy. And he said as much after the game.
Reid also said he believed Jenkins "capitalized" on the situation.
"We believe a lot of players should have stepped up for Colin," Reid said. "I believe Malcolm capitalized on the situation. He co-opted the movement that was started by Colin to get his organization funded. It's cowardly. He sold us out."
For his part, Jenkins responded by saying he looks at Reid as a hero and is "rooting" for the Panthers safety as part of the movement.
Malcolm Jenkins, responding to Eric Reid calling him a sellout and coward, told me he still considers Eric Reid a hero in their movement— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 21, 2018
“Eric Reid is somebody I’m rooting for. I’m very proud of. Putting his livelihood on the line to fight for those who don’t have voices” pic.twitter.com/FhbCLjL4my
It's a little awkward because Reid went rogue, going on the field by himself in this particular instance.
#Panthers S Eric Reid says he wasn’t a captain, Ron Rivera didn’t know he was going on the field pregame and he doesn’t regret confronting Malcolm Jenkins, whom Reid says approached him. Also continued to blister Jenkins for “co-opting” movement started by Colin Kaepernick.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 21, 2018
The brouhaha engineered some bad feelings between the teams once they got out on the field apparently. Or at least, Reid was still mad and wanted to send a message, deciding to hit Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz late.
When he did so, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz decided to get his QB's back and go after Reid. That may have been a poor choice as well, because Reid, still gassed up from the earlier confrontation, bodyslammed him.
Reid almost iced the game too -- a near-interception by the recently-signed safety would have given the Panthers a victory after an improbable comeback by Cam Newton and the Panthers offense (and an impressive effort by the defense to shut down Wentz and Co. on their final few drives).
It didn't ultimately matter because the Panthers would win anyway, but don't expect the feelings between these guys to go away any time soon.