The Panthers have been active in the fight against racism and police brutality this year. In wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others at the hands of the police, many members of this organization have spoken out. Some of them have even protested alongside those in the front lines. These topics have been brought to the forefront once again after a viral video showed 29-year-old Jacob Blake being shot by the police seven times in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake survived the shooting but has been left paralyzed as a result.
Members of the Panthers organization have spoken out about the situation, including head coach Matt Rhule. Rhule discussed this after the team had its live practice yesterday:
"We talked today as a team about the Jacob Blake shooting ... there’s a lot of hurt, emotion, and anger ... they made the decision to come out and practice ... all of us need to take a minute to think about what’s going on because something needs to change."
The Milwaukee Bucks responded to the shooting by refusing to play their playoff game against the Orlando Magic yesterday. Every other team in the playoffs followed them in solidarity of the Black lives that have been lost at the hands of systemic racism. Teams in the MLB, WNBA, and the MLS have also participated in the cancelation of games. Rhule talked about how his players responded to the news:
“I think they wanted to be in support of the NBA, obviously they wanted to be in support of social justice,” Rhule said. “But in the end, they also felt like they wanted to do something impactful. They wanted to take some time and do something besides just missing a Wednesday night practice. The biggest thing that I took away is – even though I am trying to listen and even though I think I understand to a degree – is some of the players told me, the perpetual rage and the perpetual anger and fear and disenfranchisement and all these things guys are feeling….. it’s not right that guys feel this way or guys are forced to feel this way.”
Linebacker Tahir Whitehead also provided some context to how players felt during the practice.
“We don’t want to go out and (not) practice just because everyone else is doing it,” Whitehead said. “We need it well thought out and make sure we are supporting the cause. We need to make sure we are doing everything that we can to combat change with everything that’s going on in this country. Because at some point, when does it end?”
“It’s extremely frustrating, myself included. Having four sons, I can’t imagine my children experiencing something as such. Honestly, it has been keeping me up at night. Wondering how it would make them feel. People need to be held accountable. For us, we need to use our platform, use our voice to make sure that everyone understands that this needs to end.”
People in the sports world have had enough after another Black person has suffered from police brutality. The Detroit Lions canceled their Wednesday practice, which displays the transition into the NFL. Other teams, such as the Washington Football Team, Colts, Jets, Titans, Packers, Cardinals, and Bears have decided to cancel their practices today as well.
Carolina will have its next practice session tomorrow, assuming that they choose to keep the practice as scheduled. Time will tell if the NFL season will be affected by the recent cancelations. Regardless of how the league responds, change is absolutely necessary. Too many lives have been taken and damaged as a result of state-sanctioned violence.
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