(sorry for any typos, I’m just really excited!)
For the people who don’t really know much about me, I am a HUGE Panthers fan. Like….YUUUUUGE…
Well today, I was eating my salad for lunch (because I went to happy hour yesterday and killed all of my healthy eating for the week) and came across a message from one of my friends on our group chat.
I have to admit. This was probably the most unexpected thing that I have ever expected the Panthers to do. Why?
Just a little bit of history…
Eric Reid was basically being blackballed in the NFL. As much as some people would like to deny it, he was. Why you ask? Well for my people who are unfamiliar, Eric Reid was one of the first guys to kneel with Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem in protest of Police brutality, inequality, and social justice as a whole. Also, Reid currently has a collusion lawsuit opened with the NFL, basically because he’s being blackballed. So yeah…Eric Reid wasn’t currently signed to any team in the NFL, and has not played at all this season. The Panthers decided to sign this guy, on a one-year deal (people call this a “prove it” contract) and I couldn’t be happier.
This joy that I share, comes from multiple places. You see, the panthers just recently went through an ownership change. Jerry Richardson, the old angry RBF looking guy who didn’t seem to enjoy life at all, used to be the owner. He just seemed like someone who ruled with an iron fist. Even though I never knew him personally, and everybody like players and staff said he was a kind person, he just seemed like someone who had this, “I treat my people right by paying them, so they must do what I say” type of attitude. In addition to this demeanor, Richardson never did high profile moves when making decisions for his team. There would be a need and would be a perfectly good player in free agency that would be available, and if Richardson deemed he was too problematic (in his eyes) he wouldn’t sign them. Jerry Richardson would NEVER in a million years make a move like this. Why? Because it brings too much drama. Regardless of how this makes him look to the many people who paid him money to see his team. If a move requires any type of attention, he bails out. He didn’t want to stand up for what’s right, he just wanted to make his money and go about his business. And while people think that’s fine and dandy, he never showed that he wanted to be a a part of something bigger.
The new owner of the Panthers, David Tepper, has shown in many ways that he’s not afraid to stir the pot. Tepper hasn’t done much, but the things that he HAS done in only a short few months of owning the team, has shown that he’s more about football than he is politics. A simple gesture of painting the Panthers logo at midfield was welcome with fanfare and praise. Only because fans have asked for this for 20+ years, and Jerry Richardson with the iron fist said “HELL NO”. He didn’t give a damn about his fans, and his loyalty was to his money and the NFL. I digress though. With that said, Tepper is not afraid to do what’s best for his team and the fans who watch every Sunday. Signing the best unsigned football player, who was currently being blackballed by so many others, proves that he’s not afraid of what others will say and he’s out here to support the best players out there, regardless of the inequalities they are facing. I hope he paves the way for other teams to stand up and do what’s right.
I can only hope that David Tepper continues to make the decisions that allow his team and the people they represent to stay on the RIGHT side of history. And hopefully, Reid can go out here, and show people that he can still play, while also keeping an eye on and fighting for social justice.