CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The coronavirus pandemic has posed many challenges for Panthers’ first-year head coach Matt Rhule with one of the glaring ones being having to meet with the media, his players, and coaches virtually versus face-to-face.
Quite the way to start your first year as an NFL head coach.
Rhule, hired by the Panthers in January by way of Baylor, spoke to the media for the first time since April’s NFL Draft and discussed a wide variety of topics, and began by speaking about the ongoing tense protests the City of Charlotte and places across the country have experienced over the death of George Floyd.
“What’s clear to me is history will look back at where we stood at this time. It is time for fundamental change in our society and the way we do things. It is important that our statements lead to discourse, which leads to action.”
Over the past few days since the Floyd protests revved up, NFL players across the country have called on the NFL commissioner and head coaches to speak out and voice their support.
Rhule said “systemic racism” is evident in our society. Rhule credits his father, a minister, as a big influence on him and his personal views.
“It’s time for a fundamental change. We can’t shy away from this moment. It’s all of our jobs, to admit that we do see color. to sit there and say we do not see that. It’s there. I’m proud of our team, the guys who have gone out there and used their voices, used their influence. I want my kids to look back at history and say my mom and dad were on the right side of history. It’s time for a change.”
Floyd, a black man from Minneapolis, was killed while in the custody of a white police officer last week. The officer is facing murder charges.
Rhule was hired in January and replaces Ron Rivera. who was with the organization since 2011.
NFL teams were allowed to open their practice facilities last month, however, the Panthers announced they would not be opening their facilities until mid-June.
The Panthers announced this week they will not be going to Spartanburg for training camp as the NFL told teams they must use their own facilities and are prohibiting joint practices.
The Panthers recently signed Eli Apple, who became a free agent after playing three seasons with the New York Giants. “He is an elite player. His best football is ahead of him.”
Rhule also confirmed on Wednesday that the team is considering hiring Luke Kuechly in a staff role. Kuechly announced his retirement this off-season.