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Eric Reid Resumes Kneeling Protest During National Anthem

Category: Football,Sports

Eric Reid, the N.F.L. safety who knelt alongside Colin Kaepernick as the national anthem played before games in 2016, has resumed protesting, taking a knee during the anthem before his first game with the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Reid signed a free-agent deal with the Panthers during Carolina’s bye-week after remaining unsigned after leaving the San Francisco 49ers, where he had been teammates with Kaepernick.

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The decision to continue the protest, which is intended to raise awareness of police brutality and societal inequity for people of color, was not a surprise considering Reid’s strong statements in the past, but he technically left the door open to not kneel after signing with the Panthers.

“I’m still evaluating the scope of our country, and I’ll make that decision later,” Reid told reporters on Monday in his first interview since rejoining the league.

After he stood up at the conclusion of the anthem, Reid was embraced by several teammates, including Julius Peppers, a veteran defense lineman who has, at times, stayed in the locker room during the anthem.

While the kneeling protest is generally credited as having been started by Kaepernick, the former quarterback initially sat on the sideline during the 2016 preseason. After Kaepernick decided to kneel instead — a decision he came to after meeting with Nate Boyer, a former Seahawk who had served in the Army’s special forces — Reid knelt beside him from the start. Their action sparked a national debate and led President Trump to attack the N.F.L. for not penalizing players who do not stand for the anthem.

Even after Kaepernick went unsigned last year, Reid continued to kneel.

Reid then went unsigned during the off-season and the first few weeks of the season as other safeties with less impressive resumes, like Tre Boston and Kenny Vaccaro, found new jobs. This led Reid to file a grievance against the N.F.L. which claims the owners were refusing to give him a new contract because of his political views.

At his interview on Monday, he said his grievance will continue “without a doubt” even though he has joined the Panthers.

In need of help in their secondary, the Panthers signed Reid to a one-year deal with a base salary of $823,000, far less than the $5.7 million he earned last year with the 49ers. A series of bonuses could reportedly increase the value to $2 million.

Despite the pay cut, the Panthers were one of the teams most likely to sign Reid. Some owners have called on players to stop protesting, but the Panthers’ new owner, David Tepper, is an outspoken critic of President Trump. In his short tenure, he has supported efforts by his players to combat social injustice.

Reid has remained close with Kaepernick, who congratulated him publicly after he signed with the Panthers. Conversely, he has been openly critical of Malcolm Jenkins, a defensive back on the Philadelphia Eagles who stopped protesting after the N.F.L. agreed to donate millions of dollars to social causes that the players identify.

While Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson of the Miami Dolphins had kept up the kneeling protest in Reid’s absence, other players, including Michael Thomas on the Giants, have also stopped protesting during the anthem.

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