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David Tepper

It turns out doing the right thing as an NFL owner really isn't that hard. The ownership fraternity just needed a new guy to come in and show them the way.

In December, Sports Illustrated published a story detailing inappropriate workplace behavior, which included sexist and racist remarks by then-Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. Shortly after, Richardson announced his intentions to sell the franchise. In May, the NFL approved the sale to David Tepper, who took over in July. In mid-September, Tepper called NFL players "some of the most patriotic and best people" while appearing on CNBC

On Thursday, by signing Eric Reid -- the guy who kneeled next to Colin Kaepernick when they were on the 49ers and filed a collusion grievance against the NFL-- Tepper set a precedent for owners. Reid is a former Pro Bowler who is 26 and had a solid 2017 season but went through the whole offseason and first three weeks of the regular season as a free agent.

Before you assume Tepper is some outspoken liberal because his team just signed Reid -- who continued to kneel during the national anthem after Kaepernick was no longer with the 49ers last season -- consider that he donated $29,275 to Rise to Right, a Jeb Bush PAC, during the 2016 presidential campaign. Tepper also donated to the Senate campaigns of Marco Rubio and Charles Schumer that year. As founder and president of hedge fund Appaloosa Management and someone who grew up in Pittsburgh watching Steelers championship teams, Tepper is about winning.

Nothing personal. Nothing political.

Since Colin Kaepernick sat down during the anthem more than two years ago, NFL owners have been lost. First, they condemned Kaepernick and fellow protesters. Then, they threatened the players. Then, the president advised the owners to "get those sons of b****es off the field." The next week, some owners locked arms with players. You remember the weird photo of Jerry Jones.

The players tried to reason with the owners. The owners pushed back. Reid co-founded the Players Coalition with Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin. When the group struck a deal with the owners that included an $89 million donation from the NFL to causes considered important to African-American communities, Reid left the coalition, citing a difference of opinion.

Jenkins stopped demonstrating after the October agreement. Reid told reporters in March that he wasn't planning to protest during the anthem if a team signed him. But in a meeting with the Bengals in April, Cincinnati owner Mike Brown reportedly asked him about the protest issue, and Reid declined to give a commitment.

The Panthers didn't ask, and to report Reid's signing, they literally posted a photo of him with a raised fist.

They should've made those fist emojis darker, but that's not something to harp on at the moment.

This is a big deal and not just because it makes the Panthers' secondary better. First of all, the Panthers are saying they didn't even ask about Reid's plans for the national anthem. This was just a football decision. What he does before the game doesn't matter here. The organization cares about what he does between the lines.

Second, this is Tepper backing up everything he's said. Other owners have tossed around some support for their players, but since Tepper has been hired, he's come to their defense and even bashed the president (which he has for a couple years now), who might I remind you, went after the players. Now, he has signed one of the two players that NFL teams had apparently gone cold on, strictly for political reasons.

Third, the Carolinas is not necessarily a hotbed for social progress. Remember, North Carolina lost the 2017 NBA All-Star Game because of the "bathroom bill." Tepper is sure to face backlash for this signing. It doesn't seem like he and the organization care.

Panthers players are inspired by the signing. Torrey Smith tweeted this, and the Panthers retweeted him from the team account:

For what it's worth, the Panthers needed to pick up a safety after putting veteran Da'Norris Searcy on injured reserve. One can make the argument Reid is better than Searcy, but the organization stil went with Searcy in the offseason. 

Nonetheless, here we are. The league's newest owner has done what none of the other 31 owners would do. Maybe it's because Tepper missed those meetings last fall and doesn't understand what all the winking meant at the last owners' meeting. Oops. Now he has one of the blacklisted NFL players.

Tepper, founder of hedge fund Appaloosa Management, is a self-made billionaire. His moves are about getting a Super Bowl ring, nothing else.

So Eric Reid is a Panther. He'll make his debut in Charlotte on Oct. 7 against the Giants (the Panthers have a bye this week). Who knows what he'll do during the national anthem?

The only sure thing is Reid deserves his place in the NFL. He's proven that the past five seasons.

A new precedent is set. See, it wasn't that hard.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.