Pan­thers, league mon­i­tor­ing protests in ad­vance of Sun­day game

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Steve Reed The Associated Press

Thomas Davis said the Carolina Pan­thers’ game Sun­day against the Min­nesota Vik­ings should “ab­so­lutely” be played as sched­uled, even with the city be­ing un­der a state of emer­gency due to vi­o­lent protests over a re­cent po­lice shoot­ing.

The All-Pro line­backer said foot­ball has a unique way of bring­ing peo­ple to­gether and be­lieves the game is some­thing the com­mu­nity needs.

“If you take this game away I think it is go­ing to just con­tinue to add to the stress and add to what is al­ready go­ing on in a neg­a­tive way,” Davis said Thursday.

Gov. Pat McCrory de­clared a state of emer­gency in Char­lotte on Wed­nes­day night and has sent the Na­tional Guard and state troop­ers in to help re­store peace af­ter two nights of loot­ing and ri­ot­ing .

The NFL said it plans are for the game to be played as sched­uled, al­though it will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the on­go­ing vi­o­lent protests that have gripped Char­lotte.

Pan­thers pres­i­dent Danny Mor­ri­son said in a state­ment Thursday that the team is “in con­tact with gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, the Char­lotte-Meck­len­burg Po­lice De­part­ment and the NFL. We are con­tin­u­ing to mon­i­tor events as we pre­pare for Sun­day’s home game.”

Davis isn’t alone in his be­lief that the game should be played.

Eight Carolina play­ers ques­tioned and coach Ron Rivera all said they be­lieve the game should go on, al­though tight end Greg Olsen said his fam­ily may be more cau­tious on Sun­day.

“My wife usu­ally takes the kids up­town and they tail­gate with fam­ily and friends, but we said maybe this week we should just come to the game, park in our lot and go up to your seats and get set­tled in,” Olsen said. “Is it worth mo­sey­ing around in a town that is in such a height­ened state of chaos?”

Vik­ings cor­ner­back Cap­tain Mun­ner­lyn, who played five sea­sons for the Pan­thers and still owns a home in Char­lotte, said Thursday he’s a lit­tle ner­vous about com­ing home for the game.

“Right now I would be. It’s def­i­nitely out of con­trol,” Mun­ner­lyn said. “I might just go check on my house and head back to the ho­tel. Right now I’d def­i­nitely be wor­ried. It’s kind of chaos down there right now and I hope this clears up soon.”

Vik­ings coach Mike Zim­mer said he has not paid at­ten­tion to re­ports of the un­rest in Char­lotte and has been fo­cused solely on game plan­ning for matchup against the Pan­thers.

It has been im­pos­si­ble for the Pan­thers to ig­nore the events.

What be­gan as a peace­ful protest Wed­nes­day night led to more ri­ot­ing and loot­ing down­town with one per­son shot and four po­lice of­fi­cers in­jured. The protests be­gan af­ter an AfricanAmer­i­can po­lice of­fi­cer shot and killed 43-year-old Keith Scott on Tues­day.

“What is go­ing on in Char­lotte right now is not the way to solve this prob­lem,” said Davis, who is African-Amer­i­can. “When you go out and loot and riot, you stand a chance of more peo­ple get­ting in­jured and get­ting hurt — civil­ians and po­lice. It’s not the way to go about things.”

Davis, the 2014 Wal­ter Pay­ton Man of the Year, has been with the Pan­thers for 12 sea­sons and is one of the most en­deared play­ers in the com­mu­nity.

He said see­ing the images on TV the last two nights have caused him great pain.

“I had to ex­plain to my boys that not all cops are bad cops, just like cops out there have to re­al­ize that not all African-Amer­i­can males are hood­lums and go­ing out there and de­lib­er­ately get­ting into trou­ble,” Davis said. “... Po­lice are here to pro­tect and serve us, but at the same time some­one has to be held ac­count­able for what is go­ing on.”

At least one Carolina player sug­gested he was con­sid­er­ing join­ing Colin Kaeper­nick’s cause and stag­ing a silent protest by kneel­ing for the na­tional an­them be­fore the game.

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