The Carolina Panthers signed Eric Reid last September, three weeks after the start of the season.
Recent footage revealed in “All or Nothing” shows that leadership in the locker room had concerns about signing the controversial safety.
The five-year veteran and one-time Pro Bowler had gone unsigned after the end of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers following the 2017 season.
He was and remains an ally of Colin Kaepernick and used the platform of pregame national anthems as a forum to protest racial and social injustice in the United States.
This made him a pariah in some circles as he remained unsigned until the Panthers inked him to a one-year deal after the season had started.
Newton was worried Reid would be a distraction
Amazon’s “All or Nothing” series chronicling the Panthers’ 2018 season shed light on how the two most prominent voices in Carolina’s locker room approached Reid’s arrival.
In a discussion on camera between head coach Ron Rivera and quarterback Cam Newton, Newton expressed trepidation about bring Reid into the fold (h/t @FTW).
After asking Rivera for Reid’s phone number to reach out to him, he told Rivera he was worried about distraction.
“My thing is this — and I’ll let you talk — we don’t want no outside distractions,” Newton told Rivera.
Newton expressed change of heart in public
The footage is a glimpse into the honest concerns Newton felt comfortable sharing in the locker room, but belied his public stance in a news conference addressing Reid’s arrival.
“Everything outside of football, I’m pretty sure as the teammate that I’ve always been, I’m going to stand by him,” Newton said. He added later in his press conference that by no means did he consider Reid’s off-the-field views and actions “a distraction.”
“I don’t know where you keep getting this from,” Newton laughed. “Whatever happened in the past, that happened. We know he’s going to be an impact player for us, and that’s all I care about. All of that other stuff, y’all can write.”
Rivera: Panthers owner wanted to provide a ‘forum’
Rivera’s response to Newton shed light onto the thinking of first-year owner David Tepper in agreeing to sign Reid.
“The thing we know is this much,” Rivera said. “This owner wants to give a forum. He said he’ll support him if he wants to do press conferences away from this place. If he wants to do it at city hall.”
Drastic change from Jerry Richardson
Tepper’s stance marked a dramatic turnaround from previous owner and team founder Jerry Richardson, who announced he was selling the Panthers in 2017 hours after a Sports Illustrated report alleged workplace misconduct from Richardson involving sexual harassment and the use of a racial slur.
The NFL later confirmed the allegations and fined Richardson $2.75 million after he sold the team to Tepper.
That Tepper actively sought a public forum for Reid to speak in a southern city signals a significant change of attitude in the owner’s box at Bank of America Stadium.
The Panthers signed Reid to a three-year contract extension in February.
More from Yahoo Sports: