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Panthers coach Ron Rivera supports Julius Peppers, players’ protests

Panthers coach Ron Rivera emphasized his support of Julius Peppers on Monday, saying he understands the defensive end’s decision to protest before Sunday’s game against the Saints was part of a larger issue of bringing awareness to social injustice in the country.

On an unprecedented day in NFL history, with players, coaches and even team executives throughout the league displaying unity amid Twitter and verbal attacks from President Donald Trump, Peppers was the only Carolina player to engage in any form of demonstration.

Peppers, 37, chose not to be on the field for the national anthem. The Panthers players who were on the field during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner did not link arms or kneel, unlike the Saints players who occupied the opposite sideline.

I was on government assistance my whole life, until I got drafted. I was on food stamps. I had $7 when I got drafted, so I know what it’s like [for people] to treat you different, like you’re dumb, like you’re uneducated. I know what that feels like.

Wolfe has previously said he supported people’s right to protest, including when linebacker Brandon Marshall knelt during the national anthem before eight games last season in part to protest the use of force by police. Wolfe also has consistently said he personally believes everyone should stand for the anthem.

With the violence that’s going on, the protests that are going on, I think that people really need to just sit down and listen to each other, Wolfe said. Just listen to what each other has to say and maybe we can come up with a plan that will make everybody happy. That’s probably not going to happen, because it’s impossible to make everybody happy.

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