Panthers’ LB Tahir Whitehead finding it difficult to focus on football

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Tahir Whitehead
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Tahir Whitehead /

Carolina Panthers linebacker Tahir Whitehead spoke out on how he is finding it difficult to focus on football in the current climate.

It is clear the social injustice situation is going to have a huge impact on the 2020 NFL season. The NBA has led the way with playoff boycotts following the police shooting of Jacob Blake this week. And this was followed by others such as the MLS and WNBA taking the same stand.

The Carolina Panthers have not gone to the lengths of teams like the Detroit Lions and canceled practice in protest regarding such an important matter. But that does not suggest their roster is going to be taking a back seat when it comes to using a strong platform to promote significant change across the country.

This is something that the Carolina Panthers have been at the forefront of in recent months. Players have actively protested in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and leading figures such as team owner David Tepper and new head coach Matt Rhule have been extremely supportive and sympathetic to the cause so far.

Tahir Whitehead is one player who is finding it difficult to keep his mind on football when there is so much going on off the field that is clearly affecting him and everyone else within the organization. The free-agent signing is set to fill the void left by legendary linebacker Luke Kuechly next season, but he was keen to point out that even though Carolina’s training camp is proceeding as planned. This is not the only thing that matters in the current climate.

"“A lot of us, we have children. We have younger cousins, siblings, family members, and we know that it can easily be one of them at any point in time. It can easily be one of us. I think as hard as it is to focus on it, when you step in this building, you understand there’s a bunch of men in this building that feel the same way that you feel. But also understand that you have to compartmentalize and go out there. And that’s our outlet at the end of the day, so it’s not that we go out there, we take the field, and nothing else matters.“It’s there in the back of our mind. But at the same time, it’s our chance to kind of go out there and take a step back, enjoy the time and that camaraderie with one another. But then as soon as we step off, we’re right back diving into it like, what are we going to do? How are we going to accomplish change?”"

The Carolina Panthers are discussing how they can impact the cause.

Whitehead did not rule out the possibility of the Panthers taking some sort of action down the line. This is something that every member of the roster clearly feels strongly about. It also includes educating those both within the organization, across the NFL, and around the country as to why the time for action is now.

Their head coach will be supporting them every step of the way. But the team is currently still talking about what sort of impression they can make to lend their support to another heart-breaking turn of events.

"“I think it’s just downright wrong to have to have that conversation with your children because you feel like they’re targeted when they go out into society and in this country and in this world. At the end of the day, if we feel like there’s no justice, then there’s no telling how we as players and the country feel. Even though in the NFL, the Black players are the majority, we need the help of our white teammates because it’s going to be them who then go on to their community and make sure they’re hitting the message home. It’s not until it becomes as equally important to them as it is to us collectively that we really go out there, and we get this message and our point across. We need to use our platform, use our voice to make sure everyone understands that this needs to end.”"

The NBA shifted the landscape for sports in North America. They laid the gauntlet down to others in their bid to get their voices heard, and the large majority responded in kind.

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This will undoubtedly filter over into the NFL season in some capacity. The Panthers appear to be making plans to make their presence felt in this regard, and for that, they deserve a tremendous amount of credit.