On Monday, the Carolina Panthers released practice squad player Josh Hawkins after videos circulated online over the weekend of the cornerback dancing in a crowded restaurant without wearing a mask.
Photos and video of Hawkins started making their way around social media on Sunday night. Hawkins was seen dancing in the middle of Nikko Japanese Restaurant in Charlotte, NC. The footage immediately drew criticism since Hawkins did not wear a mask while dancing. Additionally, the player did not wear a face covering while exiting the establishment and getting in his car.
A video posted by Carolina Blitz’s Twitter account shows Hawkins dancing in the crowded restaurant.
Another Twitter user Josh Klein, an editor of the Riot Report, shared a photo of Hawkins leaving Nikko maskless. In addition, Klein mentions that there are no rules against NFL players going out. However, the Panthers organization have had multiple players test positive for COVID-19 recently. So the franchise had a short leash on the issue.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule declined to give further comments on the team’s decision to release Hawkins. In fact, he chose to simply state, “I would just say we thought it was in the best interest of the team.”
Last week, Carolina had two players on the NFL’s COVID-19 reserve list. The organization has placed five players on the list since the beginning of the season. The league is taking the positive cases extremely serious, especially since outbreaks forced the NFL to reschedule multiple games. The NFL has made it known to its 32 teams that they could lose draft picks or forfeit games if they violate COVID-19 regulations.
Panthers Release Hawkins and Twitter Has Thoughts
As news broke of Hawkins’ release, many users on Twitter shared their opinions. Some thought the player losing his job was justified. Yet, many thought the Panthers overreacted.
“Not smart, but imagine being seen as a villain for having harmless fun in a restaurant. 2020,” Dennis Z. said on Twitter.
“This guy could have put the whole team out of commission with an outbreak. I’m positive every pro sports team has a policy about going out in public, and I’m equally positive this ain’t it,” another account responded.
A Twitter user named Keisha Smith thinks the move to release Hawkins was a dramatic one.
“This is how restaurants are all over America. Let’s not be so dramatic. He’s grown. He can do whatever,” Smith tweeted.
Smith’s post caught some heat from other Twitter users who adamantly disagreed for multiple reasons.
“Actually he can’t do whatever when his JOB has protocols that restrict this. He is putting his teammates/coaches and opponents at risk,” another user tweeted.
Finally, one Twitter user shut down Smith’s argument saying Hawkins’ job depended on his health and that he should have made better choices.