Even as the NFL was announcing yesterday that they planned to hold Sunday’s Panthers-Vikings game as scheduled, there was an awareness that it hinged on things staying calm overnight.
Charlotte did its part, as the third night of protests after the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott remained largely peaceful.
But before they knew it would be that way, the Panthers expressed a mixture of hope and trepidation about the possibility of gathering 70,000 people on Sunday for a football game.
“If you look at the way the South is and the way the game of football is, it has a unique way of bringing people together,” Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “This is a tough time right now in our community in our city, and we need something that’s going to bring people together.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera compared it to a situation from his time in San Diego, when wildfires forced the team to leave for a week of practice in Phoenix, but they came back for the game that week, providing a bit of a lift.
But tight end Greg Olsen also had some dad instincts, saying he might have his family curb their normal pre-game routine.
“My wife usually takes the kids Uptown and they tailgate with my family and friends,” Olsen said. “I said, ‘Maybe this week, just come to the game, park in our lot and go up to your seats and get settled in. Is it worth just moseying around town in such a heightened state of kind of chaos?'”
The good news is, there was a decided lack of chaos on the streets of Charlotte Thursday night and Friday morning, thanks in part to a midnight curfew instituted by the mayor. And while there has been no final announcement, that might be enough for the show to go on.