Charles Johnson In Hatgate 2011

By Chris Johnson
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The Carolina Panther’s fans have been quite stirred up by a certain Atlanta Falcons hat.  Thursday night defensive end Charles Johnson was seen around town donning the gear of divisional rivals, the Falcons.  This was a hot topic all day Friday with many of the calls coming in on WFNZ.  People were split both ways, some said it was disloyal and disrespectful, while others said it was just a hat and to move on.  Well, as a Panther fan since day one I want to give my take.


I want to start off by saying that I like Charles Johnson as a player.  When we signed in the off season to a six year $72 million dollar contract I was pleased.  We had seen a top defensive end leave before with no reimbursement and I definitely didn’t want to see it happen again.  Johnson is playing well this season; through six games he has 21 tackles and 5 sacks.   As a matter of fact seeing as how we both share the same last name and initials, C.J., I had been looking for a Charles Johnson jersey to buy this season.  Side note, they are not that easy to find however, there are plenty of Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen, or Armanti Edwards available.  Someone in the Panthers marketing should take note of this (different story for a different time).  Johnson has been, in my opinion, a bright star on a pretty dark defense this year.  That star dimmed a little bit for me yesterday.


Team hats to some are like some kind of male fashion accessory.  Some people have them just to match different colors to their outfits.  A friend of mine has pretty much every single Major League Baseball team’s hat and some in multiple colors.  It’s not really about fan loyalty to him.  He is a Yankees fan but if he is wearing sneakers with black and orange on them, he will wear a San Francisco Giants hat that night.  Some guys want to color coordinate everything from their shoes, to their shirt, to their hat, to color of the case on their cell phone.  I am so very proud of those people too, you picked a color scheme and decided to leave your house wearing as many things that can match that color scheme, you sir are a pioneer in the world of fashion.  I am different I only buy hats, jerseys, and shirts of teams that I like.  I have plenty of UNC, Tennessee, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants and Yankees gear (I know it’s a wide collection of teams but again, different story for different time), but there is no way I would ever be caught wearing a Duke t-shirt just because it matched the shoes I was wearing.  I would rather be water boarded than wear a Boston Red Sox’s hat simply to match my button down, and would expect electric shocks to the dome if I ever put on any Florida, LSU, South Carolina, or Alabama anything.  With all that being said I am just a fan I don’t represent any of these teams.


This gets me back to Charles Johnson, look I have heard all the arguments that this was excusable- he is from Georgia, he was wearing it to match his outfit, it doesn’t mean anything.  Well I see this differently.  First of all when you walk out your front door, you are representing the Carolina Panthers whether you like it or not.  That is the name of the game when you are a professional athlete you are in the public eye and you will be subjected to certain criticisms.  In return you are paid a hansom salary and have opportunities for certain things that most people don’t, such as rubbing elbows with the likes of Dan Akroyd.  When you are out you should be conscious of everything you do from your actions to the way you are dressed.  So by wearing the hat of a rival team I find it a bit disrespectful.  Had he of worn a Georgia Bulldogs hat, then I wouldn’t have taken any issue with it. Maybe growing up he was a Falcons fan, but when the words “the Carolina Panthers select Charles Johnson,” came out of Roger Goodell’s mouth his allegiances should have changed.  I don’t expect to see Aaron Rodgers wearing a Bear’s hat, I don’t expect to see Frank Garcia wearing a rival radio station’s shirt,  I can’t imagine a vice president at Bank of America wearing a Wells Fargo polo, and I don’t want to see any Panthers wearing other NFL teams gear.


The other major issue I have with it is the timing of it all, days after you were just beat by the Atlanta Falcons 31-17.  Not just that but the defense was horrid in that game giving up 31 points and 325 total yard of offense.  Here is another interesting stat I pulled from “Michael Turner ran outside the tackles 13 times Sunday and gained 105 yards (8.1 yards per rush). Turner gained just 34 yards on 14 rushes inside the tackles (2.4 yards per rush).”  News flash, Charles Johnson you play outside the tackles where the majority of Turners yards came, if you wanted to wear something to support the Falcons on you should have put on your jersey from Sunday’s game.  I’m sure there were some Falcon’s tire marks still fresh on there from getting run over for 8.1 yards a carry.  Not to mention we are still 1-5, I’ll tell you what if the Panthers make it to the Super Bowl then on media day you can wear the hat of whatever NFL team you want.


Like I said before, I like Charles Johnson and I hate to bash on him but I think he made a mistake by wearing that hat out.  I won’t be mad about this long and I can tell you one easy way to make this all go away, a win on Sunday.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog, do not necessarily reflect the views of WFNZ or CBS Radio.

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