Eric Reid is a man.
That’s all he’s been since he walked into the NFL, and if he’s played his last game, he will leave the way that he came in, as a man.
Despite the NFL’s best efforts to silence his outspokenness against the treatment of African Americans both on and off the field, Reid still speaks. He was the first to kneel next to his friend Colin Kaepernick during his kneeling protest (when both players were with the San Francisco 49ers) against the overpolicing of black and brown people. He was the first to call Malcolm Jenkins a sellout for Jay-Z-ing the NFL movement for black lives only to leave Colin Kaepernick on the sidelines.
And he didn’t just say it to the press, he said it straight to Jenkins’ face.
On Wednesday, the Carolina Panthers released the strong safety, who was not only overly tested by the NFL despite never having a positive drug test but was outspoken about the NFL’s newest collective bargaining agreement (Reid believes the NFL contract only enriches the owners and reduces player safety), despite signing him to an extended three-year, $22 million deal last offseason.
According to ESPN, Reid “was scheduled to count $8 million against this year’s salary cap, and releasing him will save Carolina $3 million in cap space, including $5.5 million with a post-June 1 designation.”
But Reid handled the whole thing like a man, tweeting to his fans:
“It’s been a pleasure Carolina! I enjoyed my time and the support I received from the fans, media, teammates, and staff there will be remembered. Looking forward to furthering my career in another city!”
ESPN notes that under new coach Matt Rhule, the Panthers have been looking to get rid of larger contracts like Reid’s and quarterback Cam Newton who once traded or released would free up some $19.1 million from this year’s cap.
Reid is only 28. He’s got a lot left in the tank and statistically he’s still one of the best safeties in the league. He’s now a free agent just like Colin Kaepernick, so now we wait to see how long Reid sits and if, like Kaepernick, his number is not called, we’ll all know why.