One of the early pioneers of the NFL national anthem protests has found himself back in the league.
Defensive back Eric Reid, who was one of the first to join Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the national anthem with the San Francisco 49ers back in 2016, was signed by the Carolina Panthers last week and continued to participate in the protests.
These protests, as I’ve mentioned in several posts, have been extremely controversial and President Donald Trump has even voiced his disgust with the NFL more than a few times.
Trump’s opposition to these protests have been impactful enough to the point where Reid and Kaepernick filed grievances against the NFL that alleged that teams and owners colluded to prevent these two from signing with teams.
The league also made a new rule requiring players to stand up for the national anthem and failure to do so would result in fines. However, the NFLPA filed a grievance over this, but for now, the new policy is on hold.
Before Reid was signed by the Panthers, only a short amount of players were still protesting the national anthem during the regular season.
Although there are just a few players protesting now, Reid included, a fair amount of NFL stadiums have seen these protests take place.
Below is a map of each NFL stadium that has had players protest the national anthem before a game in some way during the 2018 regular season. This includes kneeling, staying in the locker room, sitting, raising a fist in the air, etc.
What does Reid’s NFL return mean?
First and foremost, the national anthem protests are here to stay with the new policy currently on hold. There won’t likely be a new policy this season. Although the Panthers said their signing of Reid was football-oriented, it’s no doubt a controversial move, but it supports the argument that these protests shouldn’t cost someone’s job, but there are others who obviously think differently.
The Panthers needed help at safety due to injuries and Reid has shown to be a capable defender during his pro career which is why the team signed him.
But now with Reid having the opportunity to speak to the press more often, awareness for what these players protest for will be raised and published more in the media.
This also rises another question: Does this help Kaepernick get back in the league?
Only time will tell, but Reid’s signing can be considered a step towards that direction and provide some hope for the former 49ers quarterback.