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Charles Johnson creates stir with Falcons hat

Falcons' Ryan throws past Panthers' Johnson in the first half of their NFL football game in Atlanta Reuters

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.

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39 Responses to “Charles Johnson creates stir with Falcons hat”
  1. mjbulls45 says: Oct 22, 2011 10:29 AM

    if a Raiders player were wearing a San Diego, KC, or Denver hat ,

    I would riot the streets and demand for him to be released immediately.

    and you add the fact that he got PAID too…

    I dont see Kevin Garnett wearing purple and gold or Kobe Bryant draped dripping in green…

    come on now people, think before you wear. You cant be that dumb and ignorant

  2. oscojoe says: Oct 22, 2011 10:38 AM

    Hey Panthers fans, look on the bright side, it could be worse;

    He could of worn a Jet’s hat, then you would really have something to be upset about.

  3. seabass231 says: Oct 22, 2011 10:43 AM

    It’s unbelievable the a person who got paid like that could be so clueless and ignorant. A $20/hour employee for Coca Cola would likely get fired for wearing Pepsi clothing…imagine a guy who got paid $72 million?!?!? How about a little loyalty and pride?

  4. bigcarguy1 says: Oct 22, 2011 10:45 AM

    Pay me 30 million and i sure wouldnt where your competitors logo–id get your logo tattooed on my back!!

  5. scudbot says: Oct 22, 2011 10:51 AM

    He’s got 21 tackles and 5 sacks so far. Wearing a Dirtybirds hat is dumb but he’s not exactly a piker.

  6. dionoil says: Oct 22, 2011 11:10 AM

    It pissed my wife off more than me. Dudes a monster on the field, he can wear a dress off it for all I care

  7. vexey says: Oct 22, 2011 11:11 AM

    Hey guys lets keep overreacting to dumb things, it’s a hat

  8. pacash80 says: Oct 22, 2011 11:11 AM

    Remember in 2005 when Terrell Owens wore a Michael Irvin throwback jersey in public while still playing for the Eagles? Everyone in Philly called for his head. Just not a good decision.

  9. qbofthefuture says: Oct 22, 2011 11:13 AM

    Viewed within the prism of this story, doesn’t the negative response to Chris Cooley’s comments about Tony Romo and the Cowboys look ridiculous? If you support a particular team, would you prefer the players are more like Charles Johnson or more like Cooley?

  10. pnthrz1 says: Oct 22, 2011 11:19 AM

    Johnson is advertised as a guy that wants to makes plays and keep out of the limelight. He’s not doing a good enough job of either this season. I like him but this wasn’t smart.

  11. carolinacrazy89 says: Oct 22, 2011 11:25 AM

    He has five sacks so far …. know football before u make stupid comments saying he is not making plays……

  12. fafafuey says: Oct 22, 2011 11:26 AM

    As a panther fan I could care less what hat he wears when he is out with his wife as long as He brings it On Sunday’s.

  13. panthersftw says: Oct 22, 2011 11:27 AM

    Its one thing to wear another team…but a division rival? The week after they beat us? Didnt sit well with me. Especially after Jerry Richardson blew Atlanta’s contract offer to him outta the water. Money talks I guess…but you apparently cant buy loyalty.

  14. clbrett06 says: Oct 22, 2011 11:28 AM

    I don’t know… If I was a member of the dolphins, I sure as hell wouldn’t be wearing a cap for them.

  15. stellarperformance says: Oct 22, 2011 11:31 AM

    Being self-centered and having it be all about me me me is not that unusual in pro sports. You can’t set aside “fashion” for awhile? It’s really that hard?

  16. pnthrz1 says: Oct 22, 2011 11:42 AM

    carolinacrazy89 says: Oct 22, 2011 11:25 AM

    He has five sacks so far …. know football before u make stupid comments saying he is not making plays……
    —————————————————–
    Dude, I watch/listen/live Panther football every Sunday, one way or another since I no longer live in the CLT area.

    He needs to step up to the next level and beat the double teams for the $$$ he’s been paid.

    Five Sacks for what he’s getting paid are not enough. I like Johnson, he’s a good player, but he needs to take it to the next level.

    Peace

  17. donterrelli says: Oct 22, 2011 11:43 AM

    Bad decision. For those of you trying to defend him; you wouldn’t see Ray Lewis wearing a Steelers hat or James Harrison wearing a Ravens hat. That simple.

  18. CKL says: Oct 22, 2011 11:47 AM

    qbofthefuture says: Oct 22, 2011 11:13 AM

    Viewed within the prism of this story, doesn’t the negative response to Chris Cooley’s comments about Tony Romo and the Cowboys look ridiculous? If you support a particular team, would you prefer the players are more like Charles Johnson or more like Cooley?
    _____________________________________
    I have 0 problem with Cooley’s enjoying a division rival’s being beat down. I love when players on the team I root for seem to hate rivals like we fans do. It’s awesome. What I didn’t like was the personal sounding comments he directed towards Romo for “choking”. It’s like the difference between Cromartie calling Brady an a.h. (personal, baseless ) vs Brady saying he hates the Jets (he hates the same rival team we Pats fans do…awesome).

    As far as C Johnson goes, he’s pretty jerky seeming so this doesn’t surprise me. I’ve never seen in my life a player wearing garb for another pro football team (besides the aforementioned Owens). If he wants to wear BRAVES gear, no problem. Lots of guys have teams they grew up rooting for in other sports, so no harm. But it’s idiotic and disrespectful to your employer and the team fans to wear a DIVISION RIVAL’S gear especially. Derp.

  19. someidiotfromouthereintheprojects says: Oct 22, 2011 11:54 AM

    who cares? dude is from GA, pretty sure they drafted him out of UGA. and he’s a damn good player. falcons fans just wish they could see him in an ATL uniform on sundays

  20. deathspiralx says: Oct 22, 2011 12:16 PM

    If Steves Smith is going to try to defend him with a lame and ridiculous statement like that, he’d be better of keeping his mouth shut.

    I’m in technology company, and you do NOT wear the gear of your rivals – at work or off-site. So Smith is wrong regardless.

    If Johnson had a baseball or basketball team from George, maybe.

    Johnson is disloyal and has no common sense.

  21. dldove77 says: Oct 22, 2011 12:31 PM

    Don’t think the players would appreciate it if Carolina fans showed up on gameday wearing hats and jerseys promoting the other team. I thought it was kind of douchey of him.

  22. firstclasspack says: Oct 22, 2011 12:34 PM

    I own a small business and if one of my employees walked around with my competitions logo giving them free advertising……I’d be pretty pissed. Those fans that say they don’t care what he does off the field are probably not true and loyal fans of the team. I’ve been a Giants fan as long as I can remember and would be pissed if any of the players on the Giants wore any logos other than their own.

    I support my team….not individual players. Once a player leaves my team to go to another team….I don’t continue rooting for that player. I root for my team and I would think the guys getting paid millions by that team would root for them as well. If he wants to root for another team then maybe he should take less money and play for them. I would have to questions his loyalty both on and off the field.

  23. mrcosio says: Oct 22, 2011 12:49 PM

    “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.”

    Reading that made me sick, this game gets softer and softer each year, what happened to the days when opposing teams HATED each other, I mean seriously show some pride for your team if you’re not smart enough to realize you’re wearing a division rival’s gear then you don’t deserve that contract

  24. dgrowe213 says: Oct 22, 2011 1:05 PM

    He could’ve chose a Braves, Hawks, UGA, or GA Tech hat instead of a Falcons hat. I understand you want to “represent” where you’re from, but there’s plenty of other choices to entertain besides the division rival in the players respective sport.

    As for the “we’re just employees” excuse, well, that’s stupid.

    Every employer I’ve worked for has had a national competitor and I would get reemed by my employers if they found out I promoted (hat, shirt, bumper sticker, coaster) or purchased a competitors product. That’s just how it is in the real world whe you have a real job.

    That kind of logic only applies to fry cooks at McDonald’s and servers at Waffle House.

  25. staffordsyear says: Oct 22, 2011 1:08 PM

    Wouldn’t that be weird if he was seen wearing a top hat?

  26. nfloracle says: Oct 22, 2011 1:09 PM

    At least he wasn’t dancing around in the end zone pretending to be Deion Sanders while losing to the Falcons.

  27. clayton43 says: Oct 22, 2011 1:27 PM

    If I was a Panthers fan ( thank god I am not ) no words could describe how pissed off I would be. Baseball hat or basketball hat fine.. but wearing a diff teams football hat? My kid wearing a diff HS teams football hat that we just played and lost too ? I would take him out back andd make him pick out the stick I was going to beat him with. Love how Smith calls it accessorizing.. what a punk and an ass. He should have been standup and called his ass out. I HOPE the media and fans in Carolina eat him up over this. Wonder if it was a player who didnt make much money and wasnt a star if the fans who say no big deal would have same reaction or if they wouldd want him off the team they spend money rooting for.

  28. kampfire90 says: Oct 22, 2011 1:29 PM

    QUOTE: “vexey says: Oct 22, 2011 11:11 AM
    Hey guys lets keep overreacting to dumb things, it’s a hat”

    ‘Hey guys, it’s just a game’ Why take it seriously?! What an ignorant comment…this site exists b/c we are avid (some time rabid) fans of football & our teams. If it doesn’t matter to you, then follow golf.

  29. 10beeeva says: Oct 22, 2011 2:08 PM

    As a cleveland fan, i know what panther nation is feeling. Just be glad he is signed! LBJ would rock those NYY hats all the time. Total disrespect to the people are paying to watch you play.

  30. paulitik74 says: Oct 22, 2011 2:16 PM

    The Panties should cut him.

  31. vexey says: Oct 22, 2011 2:29 PM

    kampfire90 says:
    Oct 22, 2011 1:29 PM

    “‘Hey guys, it’s just a game’ Why take it seriously?! What an ignorant comment…this site exists b/c we are avid (some time rabid) fans of football & our teams. If it doesn’t matter to you, then follow golf.”

    ITS A HAT
    There’s plenty of things to analyze and discuss related to football

    but this is still JUST A HAT

  32. pedroherce says: Oct 22, 2011 3:29 PM

    @firstclasspack “fans that say they don’t care what he does off the field are probably not true and loyal fans of the team”

    Cool story, bro.

  33. catman72 says: Oct 22, 2011 4:06 PM

    As a Panthers fan, it bothers me… it’s not that big of a deal, but it was in poor taste. Wear a Braves, Hawks or UGA hat, but not a $%#! Falcons hat!

  34. edukator4 says: Oct 22, 2011 5:52 PM

    he should have worn a winnepeg jets hat, being from atlanta and all

  35. cactusranger71 says: Oct 22, 2011 9:41 PM

    Oh there will be much gnashing of the teeth and wailing over this horrible transgression! The indignity!

    I am a sports fan. I am a football fan. I consider myself a “good” fan, I guess. I don’t really care if a person I have never met who plays for a team I root for wears a dress, assless chaps, a garbage bag, a tiara, or a hat of another team. I am not THAT wrapped up in my team that I will react like my wife cheated on me if someone on that team wears another team’s hat.

    Oh, and for the last time, stop comparing yourself and your job or the Coke and Pepsi guys to professional athletes. IT’S NOT THE SAME.

  36. vtopa says: Oct 22, 2011 9:54 PM

    Steve Smith. Total punk. Like I care about his idiotic explanation for why a player would be stupid enough to wear a hat not just from another team but from a team IN YOUR OWN DIVISION. They’re just employees? Yeah, in a business that’s based on FANS and RIVALRIES you idiot. Do Apple employees walk around using PCs? Do Ford employees drive Chryslers? Do Pepsi execs drink Coke?

    That’s why the Panthers will never amount to $#!+

  37. buzzbissinger says: Oct 22, 2011 10:32 PM

    Every day I pull up to my job at a Harley-Davidson dealership on my Kawasaki. I am “just an employee”. My employer is ok with my mode of transportation because I ride a motorcycle. That’s all they can ask. unless they pay me multi-million dollar contract I will continue to do so.

    Sorry Steve, I make $1m, your ARE NOT just an employee. If you don’t get that, swap just one paycheck with me.

  38. seabass231 says: Oct 22, 2011 10:41 PM

    It’s so much more than the same…if you are a $72 million part of the franchise, you should be standing in the parking lot shaking hands with all of the fans. Maybe you are a government worker where no brand loyalty is necessary…if business is down, raise taxes. This is a situation that is ridiculous…you’re well-being depends on the health of the franchise, and you promote a rival?!?!? I assure you, 99% of the sophisticated world would be immensely offended by a franchise player/employee endorsing a rival product/business.

  39. jpietrefesa says: Oct 23, 2011 12:06 AM

    This story is ridiculous, the guy is an idiot plain and simple. If your from Georgia and a Falcons fan that’s perfectly fine but you do not flaunt it publicly.

    What kind of response did he think he was gonna get?

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