SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Despite other players around the NFL continuing to protest racial inequality and the racially charged events taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid does not intend to resume kneeling during the national anthem this season.
Reid explained why after the Niners’ Monday afternoon practice.
“I think for me, the anthem thing went so sideways — it kills me that it went the way it went because that’s not how we intended it to be,” Reid said. “You guys know what we were trying to get accomplished with that, but I think for me personally, [I'll] just keep talking about it, whether that’s social media or you guys talking to me or whatever events I can make it out to during the season just to keep raising awareness on different topics to hopefully make that change that we’re talking about.”
Reid was the first player to join quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his protest during the national anthem last preseason. He first knelt next to Kaepernick before the team’s final preseason game against the San Diego Chargers. Reid and linebacker Eli Harold joined Kaepernick in kneeling for the rest of the season.
Throughout the 2016 season, Reid said he hoped the protest would spark conversations that would lead to change at the highest levels of politics. After the season, Reid said he believed those conversations had started and that he intended to stand for the national anthem in 2017. Reid and the rest of the Niners stood for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the team’s preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night.
Reid has also kept in touch with Kaepernick, going so far as to attend his “Know Your Rights” camps in Chicago and New York City this offseason. One of the topics the pair discusses is when and where Kaepernick will get back in the league.
Kaepernick opted out of the final year of his contract with the Niners before they were set to release him, and he has yet to sign with another team. The Seattle Seahawks were the only organization to have him in for a visit.
Reid has paid close attention to Kaepernick’s job pursuits and takes umbrage with the idea that Kaepernick needs to speak out to get another chance.
“I think that’s ridiculous,” Reid said. “What does he need to say to prove that he wants to be in the NFL? He’s training every day. He’s been to the Super Bowl. He has the tape. What is coming out and saying, ‘I want to play in the NFL’ do? It’s obvious. I think it’s just a diversion, along with all the other false narratives that are out there about him. It’s just something to deflect away from why he’s not [in the league]. They’re trying to put the blame on him for not being in the NFL.”
Based on the support Reid saw Kaepernick receive during their time together in Chicago and New York, he said he could see signing Kaepernick as a net positive for a team.
“I would say that their bottom line would go higher with him on the team,” Reid said. “His jersey sales were No. 1 in the league last year during the protest, so I think that speaks for itself.”
Reid and Kaepernick chatted on Sunday about what was taking place in Charlottesville and, according to Reid, reached a familiar conclusion.
“I think it’s becoming more apparent for people to see the issues that we’re talking about, especially in the way it happened in Charlottesville,” Reid said. “We’re just hopeful that if we keep talking about it, we don’t let it go away because a lot of people just want things to blow over like, ‘Oh, that’s an isolated incident.’ But it happens every day. If we keep talking about it, hopefully we can make this change. It needs to stop being ‘hopefully.’ It needs to happen. It needs to happen now.”