CHARLOTTE – In the aftermath of President Donald Trump's controversial comments about the NFL and its players, the Panthers' sideline looked like it usually does during Sunday's national anthem. But there was one player intentionally absent.
Defensive end Julius Peppers decided to stay in the locker room. He took the field once the anthem concluded. After Carolina's 34-13 defeat against New Orleans, he explained why.
"I want to get one thing clear: This wasn't about disrespecting the military, disrespecting the police, first responders – none of that," Peppers said. "It was about me making a decision as a man on my two feet. I didn't want to ask anybody else to do anything with me. I thought it was appropriate to stay in. We know what went on this week; the comments that were made by the President. I felt like he attacked our brothers – my brothers in the league. I felt it was appropriate to stand up with them and stay in the locker room.
"I know a lot of people might not understand it. A lot of people might be upset about it. And that's fine. I'm not living my life trying to make everybody happy. I'm doing things that I feel are right and things that I believe in. There are only a few times in a man's life where you have a chance to stand up for something that you believe in and make a statement. Today I thought that was that chance, and I took it."
With all that said, Peppers was asked if staying in the locker room was a hard decision.
"It wasn't hard at all," he said, "because I feel that strongly about it."