CHARLOTTE, NC (Jourdan Rodrigue and Joseph Person/Charlotte Observer) - Carolina Panthers team captains and leaders met with new owner David Tepper on Wednesday in Charlotte, a team source told the Observer on Thursday.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was private.
Among the topics addressed was a policy the NFL announced Wednesday stating that teams can be fined by the league if players don't stand up on the field during the national anthem before games. The policy states that players may remain in the locker room during the anthem if they choose.
The policy drew national criticism and was condemned by the NFL Players Association, whose governing members said neither they nor other players were consulted prior to the announcement by the league.
Some players knelt during the national anthem last season to protest racial inequality and police brutality, following the lead of former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling in 2016. Leaguewide protests and showings of team unity, including some by owners, escalated in September following explicit remarks made by President Donald Trump toward NFL player-protestors.
No Panthers players knelt during the national anthem last season. Veteran defensive end Julius Peppers elected to remain inside the locker room during the anthem in September, a few days after Trump's comments.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that Monday's vote was "unanimous." But 49ers owner Jed York has since made public that he abstained from voting. ESPN's Seth Wickersham reported that Raiders owner Mark Davis additionally abstained.
New York Jets co-owner Christopher Johnson said that he would pay any fines his players might incur should they choose to protest during the anthem.
Tepper was approved as Carolina's new owner unanimously by other owners on Tuesday, a week after the Observer reported his $2.275 billion acquisition of the Panthers ($2.2 billion in cash).
Tepper can't vote on NFL policy until July when the sale closes and he officially assumes control of the team.
He has previously been outspoken against Trump, but details of his conversation with Panthers players have not been disclosed.