Carolina Panthers players and coaches were awakened before 6 a.m. Sunday and forced to evacuate their rooms at a downtown hotel after a fire alarm was activated on the team’s floors.
The alarm sounded around 5:40 a.m., and the team gathered in a meeting room on the first floor of the Grand Hyatt until an all-clear announcement was made around 6, according to a statement released by the team.
Only one of the four floors occupied by the Panthers was not affected by the alarm. But players were roused from their sleep on the morning of their matchup with the Seahawks.
“Walking down 16 flights of stairs at (5:30) in the morning is tough,” tight end Greg Olsen said. “But we weren’t down there too long. We stood outside for a little bit, then went inside the lobby, collected as a group and shortly after we were able to go back upstairs.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera, on a floor unaffected by the alarm, said he heard the fire trucks outside the hotel but didn’t know why they were there.
Rivera referred to the alarm as a “malfunction.”
The Panthers arrived in Seattle on Friday night, a day earlier than their normal travel schedule, to help get adjusted to the three-hour time difference.
The Panthers said they would let the NFL investigate the matter.
“Obviously, this is an issue that directly affects our club,” team spokesman Steven Drummond said. “We will let the hotel and the league investigate.”
A hotel employee said the matter was under investigation and that the hotel would have no further comment.
Rookie linebacker Shaq Thompson is convinced someone pulled the alarm to try to distract the team.
“I think it was an inside job, it had to be,” Thompson said. “There was just no way it would just hit our floors.”