Former San Francisco 49ers star quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling with his head crowned by a booming fro during the 2016 NFL season is the emblematic image of this movement of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem in protest. Pan the camera over a bit, and former 49ers safety Eric Reid in an identical pose is most likely to appear.
But, not anymore.
Reid told reporters at Stanford on Thursday, at his brother Justins pro day, that the five-year NFL vet will no longer kneel during the national anthem in protest. Reid began kneeling alongside Kaepernick during the 2016 NFL season and continued even after his former teammate Kaepernick went unsigned for the 2017 NFL season. Reid told reporters he will still be active in bringing awareness to the issues the national anthem kneeling was protesting but does admit the intent of the protests being manipulated by detractors led to his change of heart on kneeling.
It’s crazy that the narrative changed to we were ‘protesting the anthem,’ and that wasn’t the case. I think we’re going to take a different approach to how we’re going to be active, Reid said to reporters.
Cris Carter on Eric Reid: If he’s not signed in June, there should be an outcry | FIRST THINGS FIRST
In his reaction to Richard Sherman declaring his concern over All-Pro safety Eric Reid not being signed, Cris Carter highlights to Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe how even if you disagree with some of the elements to Colin Kaepernick’s public, national anthem protests, teams not signing Reid because he knelt beside Kap signifies there is still a misguided perception over players who protest.
Reid has spoken about the narrative surrounding NFL players kneeling during the national anthem being manipulated for the worst, in the past, but the timing of his most recent announcement could be tied to his job security. The new league year for the NFL began on March 14th. When Reid spoke to reporters about no longer kneeling, it was four days into free agency, with the Pro Bowl safety inexplicably still unsigned after becoming an unrestricted free agent. Days prior to speaking to reporters about his changed stance on kneeling, Reid attributed his unsigned status to team owners being against his protesting:
The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous. If you think is, then your mindset is part of the problem too.
GMs aren’t the hold up broski. It’s ownership. People who know football know who can play. People who know me, know my character. https://t.co/M9ULziZg5V
Reids concerns may have merit. Weeks before Reid decided to no longer kneel during the anthem, the Houston Chronicle reported two NFL agents informed them the Texans are not interested in signing any players who knelt during the national anthem. The Texans have vehemently denied this accusation.
If the end of the 2017 NFL season is any indication, Reid wont be the only player who will no longer be kneeling during the anthem. After President Trump called for NFL owners to fire any player who knelt during the national anthem in September 2017, during Week 3 of the NFL season, more than 100 players knelt during the anthem. Three and a half months later, during the last week of the NFL season, Reid and six others were the seven remaining players still kneeling during the anthem.
The kneel-downs were a tool in the movement, not the heart. Only time will tell if the latter remains in the face of reported pressure from those that sign the players checks.