The anti-American protests enraged countless NFL fans.
People avoided the stadiums and turned the channels on their televisions.
Now one of the original protesters made a startling admission about his future.
San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid was the first player to join Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the Star-Spangled Banner last season.
Reid, now a free agent, admits that he’s prepared to retire if teams refuse to sign him as a result of his protest.
San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid says he is prepared to go into retirement, if no team picks him up because of his two seasons of protesting during the playing of the national anthem.
Reid will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2017 football season, but he seems to feel that he may end up on the outside looking in because of his constant protesting. And he is “completely fine” if he ends up an ex-NFL player, ESPN reports.
In 2016, Reid became the first player to join teammate Colin Kaepernick in his protest by taking a knee during the playing of the nation’s theme. Reid has repeatedly attacked the NFL for leaving Kaepernick unsigned after the former second-string quarterback became a free agent at the end of the 2016 season.
Reid noted that he understood it was “a possibility” that he may end up like his friend and that no team would sign him for next season.
“I wouldn’t use the word concerned,” the payer said. “I would say I understand that’s a possibility. And I’m completely fine with it. The things that I’ve done, I stand by, and I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said, I’m fine with whatever outcome happens because of that.”
The player went on to admit that some teams will simply disregard him.
“It’s a possibility,” Reid admitted. “There are probably teams that won’t want to talk to me because of it. I’m hopeful that I will be on a team next year, but if not, again, that’s OK with me.”
He also said that he has talked to his wife to prepare her for the possibility that his NFL career might end this year. “But like I said,” he concluded, “at this point, it’s all hypothetical. I’m still a 49er, I’ve still got a game to play, I’ve still got a job to do. That’s what I’m going to worry about.”
According to reports, the 49ers have enough cap dollars to re-sign Reid, but he has several teammates close to his position which might earn them a shot over him when push comes to shove.
Reid missed three games this year due to an injury and came back to find that coaches had put Jaquiski Tartt in his position. But when Tartt suffered an injury of his own, Reid got back his spot as strong safety.
As ESPN noted, “For the season, Reid has 61 tackles, a fumble recovery and two interceptions in 12 games.” So, he certainly has strong positives from his play for bringing him back for 2018. Further, the 49ers have certainly been one team that has gone out of its way to support protesting players.
Reid’s concerns are overblown, if not conceited. He will be on a team next year. His situation is not at all analogous to Kaepernick, and for a few reasons.
First, Reid’s play at safety is better than Kaepernick’s play at quarterback. Kaepernick’s performance fell off so sharply that he got benched for journeyman backup Blaine Gabbert. Reid has been a solid starter since making the Pro Bowl his rookie year in 2013. The NFL is the ultimate meritocracy, and Reid can still play.
Second, a quarterback is far different from a safety. The quarterback is the face of a franchise and a media lightning rod. Discussions about the starting and backup safeties don’t dominate the airwaves. Reid won’t at all be a locker-room distraction. Most casual fans probably don’t even know who he is.
Third, the trailblazer always gets the brunt of the scrutiny. Kaepernick was first, so he garnered almost all of the attention. He’s the one getting book deals and courage awards from left-wing publications and organizations. Reid and the other players aren’t household names.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane sat during the anthem last year, but was coveted by the Houston Texans in a trade (although he failed a physical and returned to Seattle). If the league was going to blackball Lane because of his stance, no team would’ve dared to trade for him.
Reid will be on a team because he’s still a pretty good player who won’t potentially detonate a locker room. The same cannot be said for Colin Kaepernick.