Eric Reid has been one of the key figures in the NFL's ongoing protest against police brutality. A little time away from the league and a change of scenery couldn't change that. The safety who recently signed to the Carolina Panthers kneeled during the national anthem before today's game, making him the first Panthers player to take part in the protest that has been a hot topic around the league for several years.
Reid joined former quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his protest starting in 2016. He's knelt during the anthem ever since, a move that may well have cost him playing time. The 2013 first-round pick for the 49ers wasn't picked up by his time when his contract ended after the 2017 season and no teams brought him on during the offseason. Reid felt that his age and skill didn't line up with a lack of offers, so he filed a collusion grievance against the NFL in the spring.
Reid has been incredibly vocal about the fact that he thinks his protesting hurt his value on the free agent market.
"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 is, then your mindset is part of the problem too."
Though Reid signed with the Panthers on September 27, he's refused to end his case against the NFL. He also told reporters in his first Panthers press conference that he planned to continue to protest against social injustice.
"I'll put it this way. Next year will be 2019. It will mark 400 years since the first slave touched the soil in this country. That's 400 years of systemic depression, that slavery, Jim Crow, new Jim Crow, mass incarceration, you name it," he said. "Nothing will change unless you talk about it, so we'll continue to talk about it. We'll continue to hold America to the standard it says on paper that we're all created equal because it's not that way right now. But we're going to keep pushing towards that."