Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson became widely known in NFL circles after getting a $30 million signing bonus as part of a six-year, $72 million contract to remain with the team in the early days of free agency. He’s now being widely criticized by the fans of his team.
Johnson recently was photographed wearing a hat bearing the logo of the Atlanta Falcons, who play the Panthers twice per year — and who beat the Panthers last Sunday by 14 points.
Receiver Steve Smith joined our pals at WFNZ on Friday to discuss the situation. But while some may have predicted that Johnson’s move would have put him next in line for a Steve Smith sucker punch, Smith defended Johnson’s choice of attire.
Smith explained that hats are accessories, and that they often are selected based on where a player grew up. (Johnson is from Georgia.) Smith also said that players are simply employees of the teams for which they play, and that the players have the right on their own time to display whatever colors and logos they want.
Still, it’s not the best way for a player to endear himself to a fan base. Fans wants players on their favorite teams to hate their rivals, not support them. As a result, Johnson could end up being the target of some of that hatred on Sunday, when the Panthers play the Redskins in Charlotte.