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Panthers coach Rhule would consider kneeling during anthem

June 26 2020 1:39 AM

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule suggested he may kneel during the United States national anthem this NFL season to support his players who might do the same in protest of racial injustice. 

There have been nationwide protests in the United States after George Floyd – an African-American man – died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.

A police officer was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest after he was crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first player to kneel during the anthem in protest against racial injustice in 2016, before he was released the following year.

As players plan to take a knee, first-year NFL head coach Rhule told reporters on Thursday: "I would consider anything as we move forward.

"I'm supportive of the cause, I'm supportive of the movement, I'm supportive of social justice.

"I think for every person, whether coach or player, that will be a very personal decision for each person. It has to be made at the right time for the right reasons for everybody." 

Rhule added that he has yet to determine what course of action he will take in regards to demonstrating his support for social justice causes, stressed he would not make any decisions without first consulting his players. 

"I think a lot of this has come from the players, so I'll sort of wait and see what direction they're leaning and then, like everyone else, will make my decisions," Rhule said.

Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien has been the lone NFL coach thus far to publicly commit to kneeling alongside his players during the national anthem this season.

O'Brien also attended the funeral of Floyd, a Houston native, along with Texans owner Cal McNair and several players.  

"I'll support my players with whatever they do and when the time comes I'll really think deeply about what's the best thing for me, what's the best thing I can do to show my support," Ruhle said. "But make no mistake, I'm definitely supportive." 

Former Panthers safety Eric Reid routinely kneeled during the national anthem last season to protest police brutality, a stance he also took along with former 49ers team-mate Kaepernick during both players' time in San Francisco.

Reid was released by Carolina in March for salary cap reasons and is currently still a free agent.  

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