On Tuesday, a very scary moment kicked off at Panthers practice that ended with receiver Keith Kirkwood being hospitalized after taking a vicious hit from safety J.T. Ibe.
Panthers coach Matt Rhule was so upset with the hit that he booted Ibe from practice, and then later cut him from the team.
Following his release from the team, Ibe didn’t get a chance to meet with the media, but he did do a brief one-on-one interview with the Charlotte Observer.
“I was so in the moment, I didn’t even realize it,” “I just saw the ball and him and I wanted to interrupt it. It wasn’t me aiming for his head. It was just me trying to jar the ball out.”
“I want to contact Keith and tell him I’m sorry,” “I’m praying for his success and his health, and call Coach Rhule, Coach Simmons and Scott Fitterer and just thank them for my time with the team and giving me this opportunity, honestly.”
“I just want everybody out there just to know I’m a good dude and this is not my game. I’m not a dirty player, I don’t have any dirty hits on my record. I just feel bad.”
Ibe was released because Rhule felt like the safety was trying to “tee off” on Kirkwood.
“That completely unacceptable to do something like that,” Rhule said. “There’s things, bang-bang plays, that happen. Guys will hit the ground, but you can’t tee off on somebody. That’s not what we’ll do. It’s undisciplined by us, so that can’t happen.”
Ibe was signed in April 2021 as an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina.