Carolina Panthers officials met on Thursday to discuss possible security issues for Sunday's home game against the Minnesota Vikings amid the violent protests in Charlotte, the team announced.
The team and the NFL announced in separate statements said that the game will be played on Sunday as scheduled with both entities speaking with local officials and authorities to monitor the events in Charlotte.
"I think it would be good for the city," Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said, according to ESPN. Rivera said he is not concerned about the safety of his team or family at the game.
Fox 46 Charlotte reported on Thursday that there were discussions of moving the game to Minnesota or another neutral location.
A state of emergency has been declared in Charlotte after protests broke out over the past few days in response to a black police officer shooting and killing 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott. Authorities say Scott was carrying a weapon after exiting a vehicle when he was shot. His family disputes that account, saying Scott was sitting in his car reading a book.
On Wednesday, protests started to move toward Bank of America Stadium and quickly turned violent, as police tried to prevent the rioters from destroying property.
The cops responded by firing shots and setting off tear gas bombs, attempting to end the protests. More than a dozen police officers were reportedly injured in the rioting, and one protester was shot and critically wounded.
Panthers officials are reportedly concerned about security if protests move closer to the stadium on Sunday, but both linebacker Thomas Davis and tight end Greg Olson agreed with their coach that the game should remain in Charlotte.
"This game absolutely should be played Sunday,'' Davis said. "I look at football as a way to bring people together ... I hope people know that violence is not the answer. It's not the way to solve this problem."
Olsen pointed out that the Panthers' racially diverse roster could provide an example of inter-racial harmony.
"On Sundays, when people come and watch us, not only do people see that, but to a bigger level those people sitting in the crowd are from all walks of life, from all backgrounds, from all religious denominations," Olsen said. "But for one day, for one afternoon for a few hours, they all come together for a few hours around the Carolina Panthers.
"Sports have a tremendous ability to bring people together. Sports have a tremendous ability to give people a little bit of reprieve from what for a lot of people not only with what's going on now but a general state of life."
During the protest on Wednesday night, one protestor yelled that he would burn Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's jersey if he stood during the national anthem before Sunday's game.
Newton commented on the protests on Wednesday morning.
"I'm an African-American and I'm not happy how the justice has been dealt with over the years, and the state of oppression in our community,'' Newton said. "But we also as black people have to do right by ourselves. We can't be hypocrites. And I say that on one voice and also another voice that when you go public or when things happen in the community, it's not the fact that things are happening, it's the way they are being treated after they happen.''
- Scooby Axson