New York (AFP) - Former Colin Kaepernick teammate and Carolina Panthers defensive back Eric Reid blasted the NFL Thursday over its new deal with rapper Jay-Z, calling it cover for injustice toward Kaepernick.
Kaepernick, who has not played in the NFL since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017, began kneeling in protest of social injustice and racial inequality during pre-game renditions of the US national anthem three years ago.
The move became a talking point for Donald Trump in September 2017, the US president saying players were insulting the nation and flag and should be fired.
By the next NFL Sunday, more than 200 players took Kaepernick's lead and kneeled or sat during the anthem.
Reid and Kaepernick filed collusion grievances against the NFL that were later settled out of court, and Reid found a new NFL deal with Carolina -- but Kaepernick still has been unable to obtain even a look from an NFL club.
The NFL entered a partnership this week with rapper Jay-Z, which the league hailed as a progressive move to promote social justice and which the singer said would allow the league to advance from protest to actions that will help communities.
"I think we've moved past kneeling and I think it's time to go into actionable items," Jay-Z said in defending the deal.
In the meantime, Kaepernick remains out of work and Reid has become a harsh critic of the NFL-Jay-Z deal.
"We never advocated for Colin to lose his job while we fought against systemic oppression. That's unjust, and where the NFL inserted itself into this," Reid tweeted Thursday.
"Now the NFL is 'championing' social justice to cover their own systemic oppression in blackballing Colin. So we will fight to get Colin's job back as well.
"Jay-Z knowingly made a money move with the very people who've committed an injustice against Colin and is using social justice to smooth it over with the black community."
Kaepernick thanked Reid and others for their support in a tweet later Thursday.
"You never turned your back on me or the people, even when the nfl tried to silence your voice & the movement," Kaepernick tweeted to Reid.
"You've never flinched or wavered. I love you Brother! Let’s get it! @E_Reid35 And to the people - I see you, I hear you and I love you! Thank you for having my back!!!"
The move came a day after the third anniversary of Kaepernick's first kneeling protest, a milestone he celebrated on Twitter.
"Today marks the three year anniversary of the first time I protested systemic oppression," Kaepernick tweeted Wednesday.
"I continue to work and stand with the people in our fight for liberation, despite those who are trying to erase the movement! The movement has always lived with the people!"