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Eric Reid signed with the Carolina Panthers on Friday, and took part in his first practice with the team on Monday.
He also was back in front of media (wearing a T-shirt supporting his good friend Colin Kaepernick, natch), and offered some interesting answers to questions lobbed his way.
‘Players’ Coalition is NFL-funded subversion group’
Reid’s sharpest words were directed toward the Players’ Coalition, the group of NFL players who have been working, together and separately, on projects to further issues of racial and social injustice. Members of the coalition worked with league team owners and commissioner Roger Goodell last year, securing $89 million over 10 years to be given to national and local programs who work toward those causes.
Once a member of the coalition, Reid and a few others pulled out when the deal was made, unhappy with the direction they believed the group was heading in.
“The Players Coalition is an NFL-funded subversion group, so that’s why I removed myself from them. I’ll keep moving forward with Colin,” Reid said.
Last week, Reid and Kaepernick were at the Lower Eastside Girls Club in New York as part of their third annual backpack giveaway; Reid said that was particularly impactful for him because he has two daughters.
Reid was the first player to join Kaepernick during his protest when the two were teammates in San Francisco, but Reid couldn’t give many details about whether he will continue to protest and what that protest would look like, citing his legal case against the league.
However, Reid said “without a doubt” that his case will keep moving forward.
‘I’m still considering’
Kaepernick, Reid said, has been very supportive of his signing with Carolina, and will be helping with Reid’s family while he’s in Charlotte: his wife and children will remain in New Jersey, and Kaepernick will help “fill in some gaps.”
Reid has said previously that he would consider other ways to protest, “and I’m still considering.”
The Panthers did not speak to him about protesting before his signing, and Reid said he’ll make a decision “later”; he’s been speaking to a couple of people about possibilities. New Carolina owner David Tepper has been supportive of players’ activism, but Reid has not met him yet.
Asked why Reid felt so strongly about speaking out that he effectively put his employment on the line, he offered a brief history lesson on the African-American experience:
“I’ll put it this way: next year will be 2019. It will mark 400 years since the first slaves touched the soil in this country,” he said. “That’s 400 years of systemic oppression: slavery, Jim Crow, New Jim Crow, mass incarceration, you name it. The Great Depression, they come out with the New Deal, black people didn’t have access to those government stimulus packages. The New Deal set up what is known as the modern-day middle class. We didn’t have access to programs – the G.I. Bill, Social Security, home loans – none of that. This has been happening since my people have gotten here, so I just felt the need to say something about it.”
He will keep talking because “nothing will change unless you talk about it.”
‘Let’s do it’
Reid confirmed that he had offers from both the Panthers and 49ers, but the Panthers’ offer was better.
“When I got the call, I had just finished working out,” Reid said. “I was like, ‘OK, that’s surprising,’ and I went back and forth with my agent. I said, ‘Let’s do it.'”
Carolina coach Ron Rivera said Reid was on the field for about 60 percent of the snaps during Monday’s practice.
” … there’s nothing like being on the field, taking on blocks, chasing after fast guys,” Reid said. “So trying to get my conditioning up, and then just helping the team. Hopefully I can make some plays, put us in a position to win games. That’s the main goal.”
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