Former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, who kneeled alongside and protested with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, is filing a collusion grievance with the NFL over his inability to get signed as a free agent.
Reid, 26, is considered one of the better players in the league for someone in the safety position. But after becoming a free agent in March, he’s had a difficult time finding a team to sign him — which he now alleges is due to his political stances.
Reid was one of the first players to kneel beside Kaepernick during the playing of the national anthem before games. Kaepernick began that protest, initially sitting but then kneeling out of respect for veterans, to make a statement against racism in the United States.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said in 2016.
After a year mired in controversy, Kaepernick was released from the 49ers after that season. He went all of the 2017 season without a team, and he has accused owners of colluding against signing him to punish his free speech.
On Wednesday, Reid filed his own accusations against the league, arguing that he also is the victim of a conspiracy against signing players who have kneeled in protest. He has the same legal representation as Kaepernick does in his grievance suit.
There’s legitimate reason to believe both players. When visiting the Seattle Seahawks, a team that was shorthanded at the position of quarterback, Kaepernick interviewed with them to see if he could get a placement there. But when they asked whether he would continue kneeling during the anthem, Kaepernick said he intended to, and the talks between him and the team broke down.
Reid alleged the same thing happened to him in Cincinnati. The Bengals ranked in the lower-half of teams in terms of total defense in 2017, so a pickup of Reid would definitely help them improve. It was reported that the team also asked Reid if he would continue his protest. Ultimately, he didn’t get a contract with the Bengals.
It’s yet unproven if a conspiracy against these players exists, but it’s very suspicious that two talented individuals like Kaepernick and Reid are struggling this much to get signed. Their right to protest shouldn’t be seen as a hindrance on the teams they play for — and ultimately, history will note these players, who protested and stood their ground, as noble and justified for doing so.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Kirby Lee/Reuters, USA Today Sports