NFL Players Almost Come To Blows Over League’s National Anthem Payoff

Bruce Haring
Deadline

Two former allies who were key players in the NFLnational anthem protests that dominated the league’s attention during the 2017 season almost came to blows before today’s game.

Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid and Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins had to be separated during the coin toss after their pre-game jawing escalated. Reportedly their dispute centered on the NFL Players Coalition, an ad-hoc organization that was in talks with the NFL to end national anthem protests if the league donated $90 million to causes related to social inequality. NFL.com announced in May that the partnership was finalized, but it is unclear whether the money has started flowing.

Reid, one of the first players to join former teammate Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protests during the anthem, called the coalition “an NFL-funded subversion group.” Reid, who was out of football and sued the NFL for collusion until recently signing with the Panthers, felt that accepting the money would represent a sell-out of player values. Reid reportedly left the coalition because founder Jenkins excluded Kaepernick from meetings and was instrumental in asking players if they would stop protesting the anthem if the NFL made a charitable donation.

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According to Black Sports Online, Reid said “Malcolm did text me this morning asking if we would be comfortable ending our demonstrations if the NFL made a donation. At that point, that was the last straw for me. He had a conversation with the NFL. We agreed that multiple people would be part of the conversations with the league so it just wouldn’t be him. He didn’t stand by his word on that. At no point did we ever communicate an agreement with the NFL to end the protest.”

Reid claimed Jenkins “doesn’t protest” during the national anthem, even though Jenkins has frequently raised a fist during the song. “We communicated these concerns to him numerous times and have had numerous phone calls about it,” Reid said. “Our concerns haven’t been reflected with how the organization is being run, so I felt like I needed to make a departure from it.”

 

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