CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – In the wake of what has been dubbed “Banner Gate” on social media, the Carolina Panthers revised the banner policy for Bank of America stadium.
The policy change comes more than a week after a Green Bay Packers fan had his banner yanked down by quarterback Cam Newton.
Mike Dobs, a veteran who works at Fort Bragg, and his family were holding the Packers banner before the start of the Nov. 7 game when Newton noticed the sign and grabbed it.
The 8- by-3-foot banner had a green map of North Carolina, the Green Bay logo and the words “North Carolina Cheesehead.”
The Dobs family has said they thought the quarterback was joking, but quickly realized he was not when Newton didn’t return the banner. Dobs complained to police at the stadium and filed at report that accused Newton of stealing the banner.
Since that report, Dobbs said he began getting angry messages, even death threats.
The NFL says Newton didn’t violate any league policies, saying he didn’t actually go into the stands to get the banner.
Newton admitted to grabbing the banner and explained that he felt it was disrespectful to Panthers fans and their home, Bank of America Stadium.
“It just doesn’t match,” Newton told reporters after the game. “I was passing, the sign was dangling. Either somebody was going to have to take it off or I’d take it off. And it’s no disrespect to nobody, it’s more of a respect to the stadium.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera told the media he had spoken to Newton about ripping down the banner, but didn’t elaborate on what he told the fifth-year quarterback.
“Obviously [the incident] played a role in prompting us to review the policy,” executive director of stadium operations Scott Paul said. “But there were internal discussions about the policy beforehand for the reasons already mentioned. Our goal was to simplify the policy and eliminate confusion.”
Banners, signs and flags can be no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet, according to the revised policy.
The Panthers chose the new size limit because “we want our fans to be able to communicate a message of support without it obstructing the view of fans around them,” Paul said.
“The reality is our stadium has evolved over that time, and the renovations have altered the ability of our fans to affix banners,” Paul said. The team also said it didn’t want stadium features like its field wall graphics and 360-degree ribbon boards to be compromised.
Fans from visiting teams are still permitted to bring signs into the stadium.
The Panthers say the former policy and the revised policy are similar to most NFL stadiums.
Dobbs received a new banner last week thanks to Fayetteville UPS Store owner who printed a new one. In addition, Dobs said a Panthers executive told him the organization will replace the original banner that Newton grabbed.
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