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Cam: Meeting with Richardson 'extremely productive'

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  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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Cam Newton said Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson assured players there would be no repercussions from the team if players took action during the national anthem moving forward.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Newton described the meeting Richardson had with select Panthers players as "extremely productive and a step in the right direction for us as an organization."

Newton didn't reveal much details from the meeting or whether any Panthers players might protest during the national anthem prior to Sunday's game against the New England Patriots. Newton didn't rule out that he would protest or take action this weekend.

"You just have to watch and see. But by no means do we want to offend anybody. I don't think [anybody] who has protested has meant for it to be disrespectful to the United States flag, by no means."

During last week's game against the New Orleans Saints, Panthers players stood for the national anthem but did not take part in the displays of team unity that were common throughout Sunday's games. Julius Peppers, however, was not on the field during the national anthem. Peppers remained in the locker room and took the field after "The Star-Spangled Banner" ended.

News of the meeting followed a Tuesday report from the Charlotte Observer that a group of players were upset that Richardson's "strongly held beliefs do not allow them to join the growing protests around the NFL."

Newton described the meeting with Richardson in positive terms.

"We met with Mr. Richardson to just kind of discuss certain things that were on our minds and on our hearts from different perspectives ... the different people that were over there, they come from different backgrounds and have different views. And one thing about it, we expressed those views, and more importantly, that everybody is entitled to their own thought process."

Captain Munnerlyn, who wasn't at the meeting with Richardson, said from his understanding the team owner said, "I am behind you."

Newton said the players first talked about President Trump's comments regarding NFL players not standing during the national anthem during their team meeting Saturday night, but he felt like he didn't have enough time to make a decision on what to do before the game.

"One thing I don't want to do is make an irrational decision at the spur of the moment and just say, 'OK, I'm going to do something,'" Newton said. "Where I stand, I want to think about it, I want to have reasoning [before] I take action to it. It wasn't about doing anything this Sunday or not doing anything this Sunday. It was just too spur of the moment that didn't give us time to think about it."

Newton went on to say that he doesn't feel pressure regarding how any potential action he takes during the national anthem could be perceived. He gave credit to Colin Kaepernick for being the first player to raise awareness to the issues of social injustice.

"...My hat goes off to the Colin Kaepernicks of the world -- he's made the ultimate sacrifice, and I respect that wholeheartedly. And I can't let a moment go by without shedding light to that. A person who does have the talent to play, a person that should be in this league, but I feel he isn't getting his just due because of his views. But that's a legend right there. For him to think outside of himself and raise awareness -- this is 365 days removed from his first initial stand, and here we are doing the same things. And now everybody is kind of understanding what his reasoning was because of that, and I respect that."

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