By Peter Gleason
Maybe it’s because he’s younger than most NFL coaches.
And perhaps it’s because he has spent the last decade coaching college kids, who are more inclined to seek racial justice.
But new Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule says he’s considering kneeling alongside his players during the national anthem this season in support of the movement against racial injustice.
“I would consider anything as we move forward,” Rhule said on a video conference call. “I’m supportive of the cause. I’m supportive of the movement. I’m supportive of social justice. I think for every person, coach or player that will be a very personal decision. I think it has to be made at the right time and the right reason for everybody.”
The first-year coach hired from Baylor previously has told his players that he will support them for expressing their views about social injustice.
“I will support my players with whatever they do, and then when the time comes, I will really think deeply about what is the best thing for me and what is the best way I can show my support,” Rhule said.
In 2016, then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. His teammate Eric Reid kneeled alongside him and later played for the Panthers. Both players reached settlements with the NFL after filing grievances alleging owners colluded to keep them out of the league.
Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien previously has said he will take a knee alongside his players during the national anthem.
Rhule — who, like O’Brien, is white — said he will confer with his players before making any decision about whether to kneel.
“I think a lot of this has come from the players, so I will wait to see what direction they are leaning and then I will make my decision,” Rhule said.