If you don’t believe that former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being whiteballed by the NFL, then look no farther than Eric Reid. While there have been questions about Kaepernick’s style of play not fitting with different teams, there have been no questions about Reid’s ability to play football. In fact, the only reason the former Pro Bowl safety is not with a team is that he was the first player to kneel alongside then-teammate Kaepernick to protest the unjust killings of unarmed men, women and children by police.
On Monday, Reid had a visit with the Cincinnati Bengals where a conversation with Bengals owner Mike Brown quickly turned into a discussion about whether Reid would commit to not kneeling during the national anthem.
According to Pro Football Talk, Reid had already said that he had no plans to protest this upcoming year, but when Brown wanted a commitment that Reid wouldn’t protest no matter what, Reid wouldn’t commit to that.
Reid went so far as to have a physical and even reviewed film. During a meeting with Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, Reid was reportedly asked if he wanted to clear up anything that he’d said to ownership about his kneeling protest. Reid noted that he did not, and the Bengals did not offer Reid a contract.
“We are about playing football,” Lewis told reporters at last month’s owners’ meetings, the New York Post reports. “[Players who] have other agendas, this is not the place to be. On Sunday for us and throughout the week in the building, it’s about football. That’s how I’ve approached it. Whatever happens from the league standpoint we will go along with, but that is what our guys know. And they handle that for me. I don’t have to have a voice. They understand what I am about; anything beyond that gets in the way of us doing what we want to do, and that’s winning football games.”
There are no flaws in Reid’s résumé; he’s spent all five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and finished his last season with 66 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery, the Post notes. Yet Reid is still without a team.
“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 [th]is, then your mindset is part of the problem too,” he tweeted on March 15, according to the Post. “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.”
The Post notes that several players, including Torrey Smith, Malcolm Jenkins and Devin McCourty, have noted that Reid is being blackballed. Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman has noted that if Reid is left off a team this season, he should consider seeking legal action.
Sadly, Reid knew that fighting for black rights could mean that he could be whiteballed, but the fight for the lives of unarmed black men, women and children meant more to him than his livelihood.
“I would say I understand that’s a possibility,” Reid said late last year about the potential of being blackballed, the Post reports. “And I’m completely fine with it. The things that I’ve done, I stand by, and I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said, I’m fine with whatever outcome happens because of that.”