Night net Maybe the Panthers organization — and specifically the owner, Jerry Richardson — thinks this ostrich impersonation they’re pulling off in t
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Unlike Orioles in Baltimore, influential Panthers turned their backs on home city


Unlike Orioles in Baltimore, influential Panthers turned their backs on home city

Night net Maybe the Panthers organization — and specifically the owner, Jerry Richardson — thinks this ostrich impersonation they’re pulling off in the midst of police killings, protests, looting, conflict and fear, is the only path to take.It's so wrong, it’s damn near criminal.  There aren’t many chances for teams like theirs, that carry the city’s name and image to the nation and the world, to actually be givers instead of always being takers. In the heat of the moment, after two decades of taking, Richardson and the Panthers decided to give Charlotte nothing but Sunday’s kickoff time.  MORE: National anthem protests in sports, in photosInstead of being part of the city, they chose to be a fiefdom unto themselves, worrying about their problems while a hurting city worried about their own, still using them as their personal ATM instead of being a real member of the community — one with genuine financial and emotional punch.They don’t have to play it that way.One similar city with a strong sports identity and a similar civic crisis chose not to, just 17 months ago. The Panthers could have used Baltimore and the Orioles as their guide, their blueprint. But to them, apparently, Baltimore is just a team in the AL wild-card race, or that joint where “The Wire” is set, and yeah, they’ve been watching that on HBO On Demand since OTAs ended.Here’s what the Orioles of Baltimore did, Jerry Richardson and your circle-the-wagons friends. They spoke up at the first opportunity they had. They didn't end up doing damage control like you.John Angelos, the executive vice president and son of owner Peter Angelos, took to Twitter the night the clashes began in late April of last year, and appealed to fans temporarily kept inside the downtown ballpark for safety, and to the Baltimoreans outside protesting both peacefully and not.“We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the US,’’ Angelos tweeted, “and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don't have jobs and are losing economic, civil and legal rights and this … makes inconvenience at a ball game irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.”Richardson has not yet spoken a word.When the Orioles played a few days later with no fans while the city was in a state of emergency, All-Star centerfielder Adam Jones said before the game: “People are hurting. As one of the older guys in the community, we owe it to the youth to continue to strengthen them, to educate them, to be by their sides. They don’t need more antagonizing, they need a shoulder to cry on, and this city can be that for those kids."Your frustration is warranted, understood," he continued. "Your actions aren’t acceptable, but I know where they come from."Pretty clear thoughts from the face of the franchise, not the league MVP like Cam Newton, but also not eager to keep both sides happy.MORE: If you won't listen to Adam Jones, you just don't want to hearAnd after the game, manager Buck Showalter gave an impassioned reply when asked to speak to the young black men affected most by the events.“I tell guys all the time — I’ve never been black, OK, so I don’t know. I can’t put myself there. I've never faced the challenges they’ve faced,’’ he said, adding: “I want to be a rallying force for our city, and that doesn't mean necessarily playing good baseball. There are some things I don’t want to be normal, you know what I mean? I don’t. I want us to learn from some stuff that’s gone on, from both sides of it."The words of the manager, especially one with his credentials, carry weight. Ron Rivera has credentials. He did not channel Showalter, to put it mildly.Jones, Showalter and other players did not fail to notice on the news flashes that many people in the streets, doing good and bad and in between, were wearing Orioles gear. As overwrought and overstated as the bonds between teams and fans can be, they weren’t that week. The Orioles recognized it and said, let’s make it mean something more than ticket sales and revenue.They also figured that speaking honestly about all the conditions that factored into Freddie Gray’s death and the ensuing unrest would not be — in the words of a certain MVP — “lose-lose.” It was courageous, and empathetic.Meanwhile, run those Showalter quotes through your head again: “There are some things I don’t want to be normal.” The Panthers chose to ke

ep things as normal as possible.CASH: Dear Panthers, your city could really use you right nowOutside their doors, normal was a living nightmare on multiple levels. Inside, it was Week 3.If the Panthers could have shaken up the normal in the city for a few hours this week, by engaging in their lives, by offering their leadership, by walking the streets, by committing something besides the most scripted-sounding remarks possible from the safety of their facility … maybe the definition of “normal” would have shifted.Thomas Davis made an attempt Thursday afternoon, but by then, the city was already in a state of emergency. "What I saw on TV last night is not Charlotte," Davis said. He added: "It's important for us to do it the right way. (Rioting) makes the situation worse."For the most part, the Panthers are just a team, and Richardson is just a rich guy with an office in town and a suite at the stadium.Charlotte, you’re on your own.

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