Former San Francisco 49er safety Eric Reid was one of the first players to kneel in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick in 2016, and he repeated his protest again during the 2017 season. He did so knowing that his political views could hamper his future employment prospects. Reid is now a free agent, and per his assessment, teams are shying away from him because he knelt.
Reid, 26 and one of the more desirable safeties on the market, shot down the idea that he would take a discount contract because of his political views. “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,” Reid wrote on Twitter. “If you think (it) is, then your mindset is part of the problem too.”
Reid charged that owners, not general managers, were holding up his signing. “People who know football know who can play,” he wrote. “People who know me, know my character.”
Reid had acknowledged the idea that he might not be on a team this season as far back as August. “This has been fueled by my faith in God,” he said. “That’s the only reason I do it. You can’t serve God and money. So if I’m not on a team next year, I’ll be at home unhappy that I’m not on a team. But I’ll be satisfied that I did what I believed was right. And that’s being a voice for the voiceless and standing up for the oppressed.”
He reaffirmed that stance in December: “There are probably teams that won’t want to talk to me because of [the protests]/ I’m hopeful that I will be on a team next year, but if not, again, that’s OK with me.”
It’s worth noting that despite the flurry of signings across the NFL, we’re still very early in the free agency period. And the unexpected availability of former Cardinal Tyrann Matthieu has undoubtedly altered the character of the market for safeties. Still, Reid felt strongly enough about the market, or lack thereof, for his services that he spoke out … again.
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