On Monday, Carolina Panthers owner and founder Jerry Richardson became the 31st team or team owner to release a statement following the remarks President Donald Trump directed at NFL players over the weekend.
“We are proud of the men we have on this football team,” the statement read. “Our players have been active and impactful participants in making our community stronger.
“From the first time I stepped into an NFL locker room at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore in 1959, I have lived and seen the sport’s ability to bring people of all backgrounds together.
“Politicizing the game is damaging and takes the focus off the greatness of the game itself and those who played it.”
Richardson did not specify to whom the final part of that statement was directed, as he did not refer to President Trump by name or mention the demonstrations across the league.
The statement followed a wave of peaceful demonstrations during the national anthem, during which some players across the league linked arms, knelt or sat. Some owners linked arms with their players, and some teams remained in the locker room during the anthem.
The Panthers largely did not demonstrate. They stood on the sideline with unlinked arms during the anthem, but veteran defensive end Julius Peppers remained standing inside the locker room. He joined his teammates when the anthem concluded.
Peppers said after the game that he chose to do so in direct condemnation of President Trump’s remarks, and also to protest racial inequality.
He said he wanted to make it clear that he did not want to disrespect the flag, the military or first responders, which is partially why he chose to stand and did not kneel.
Head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks both said on Monday that they supported Peppers’ decision and respected the way he went about it.
Richardson’s statement did not mention Peppers.
The only team owner who hasn’t yet released a statement is Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.