I was headed to the airport when I got the message about Eric Reid signing with the Panthers. I looked at it three times – each with a different reaction. I first stared in disbelief, then amazement and finally with pride. Things are changing here in Carolina Panthers country – changing from a culture of stringent conservatism to one that looks fosters individualism, inclusion and most importantly winning.
Winning. That’s what this deal was about. The Panthers were immediately in the market for a safety when De’Norris Searcy was placed on injured reserved after sustaining two concussions in a five week span. Colin Jones and Rashaan Gualden split snaps at the position in the Panthers 31-21 win against the Bengals, but with the roster spot available and the obvious need at the position, the question wasn’t if Carolina would sign another safety, it was who.
Many thought they would go in the direction of bringing in Jarius Byrd – a 9-year vet who played 11 games for the Panthers last season. I don’t think anyone thought the Panthers would give Reid, the man who was the first to kneel in support of Colin Kaepernick’s protest against racial injustice, a chance.
I thought putting the team’s logo at midfield, instead of the traditional NFL shield, was David Tepper’s official coming out party as an owner. This tops that. This is how you make an impact. This is how you change the culture. This is how you make the Carolina Panthers a great place to work. This is how you build a perennially competitive franchise. This is how you send the message that success is the objective.