Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was absent as his teammates stood along the team's sideline for the national anthem on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. Peppers did arrive on the sideline prior to kickoff though. Jeff Siner jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was absent as his teammates stood along the team's sideline for the national anthem on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. Peppers did arrive on the sideline prior to kickoff though. Jeff Siner jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Carolina Panthers

Anthem protests around NFL spread to Charlotte for Panthers-Saints

September 24, 2017 1:07 PM

Carolina Panthers veteran defensive end Julius Peppers was not on the field for the national anthem before Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.

All of the Panthers players who were on the field stood for the anthem. Peppers walked on the field afterward with a team official.

Peppers was not available to reporters during the week leading to the game. NFL rules require players to be on the sideline for the anthem, so Peppers could face discipline from the league.

More than a dozen Saints players, including Adrian Peterson, sat on the bench during the anthem.

New Orleans Saints players sit on the bench during the national anthem before Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
Bob Leverone AP

By the time the 1 p.m. games began, 25 of the 32 NFL owners had issued statements following President Donald Trump’s comments suggesting players who don’t stand for the anthem should be fired, but Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was not among them.

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was Richardson’s guest at Sunday’s game, said – as a private citizen – he found Trump’s comments “insulting and disgraceful.”

“To single out any particular group of players and call them SOB’s, to me that is insulting and disgraceful. So I think the players deserve credit for what they do,” Tagliabue told a group of reporters in Charlotte.

“And when it comes to speech they are entitled to speak. And we are entitled to listen,” he added. “We are entitled to agree or disagree. But we’re not entitled to shut anybody’s speech down.

“Sometimes you don’t like what you hear and that is true in life in lots of context, but you can’t shut people down and be disgraceful when you are doing it.”

Former commissioner Tagliabue calls Trump's remarks 'insulting and disgraceful'

Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue calls President Donald Trump's remarks 'insulting and disgraceful' before Sunday's Saints - Panthers game.

Jourdan Rodrigue jrodrigue@charlotteobserver.com

Sunday afternoon, Trump tweeted about what was happening at NFL games:

“Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!”

Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin told CBS that he and his players decided to remain in the locker room before the Steelers’ game in Chicago.

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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