Eric Reid is walking back his commitment to kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest. Nearly two weeks into NFL free agency, Reid has encountered a barren market for his services despite being regarded as one of the best available safeties.
Reid, 26, was one of the first teammates to begin kneeling alongside Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 preseason and continued kneeling even after the Player’s Coalition came to a $100 million agreement with the NFL in November.
After starting all 13 games he was healthy enough to compete in for the San Francisco 49ers last season, Reid has yet to receive a contract offer as organizations have seemingly painted an arbitrary line in the sand on this particular issue.
The icy reception from teams has compelled Reid to rethink his method of public activism. To improve his prospects of latching onto a team in free agency, Reid has decided to cease his anthem protests for the 2018 campaign and beyond, per ESPN.
During his brother Justin’s pro day workout on Thursday, Reid articulated his drastic change of heart.
“I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country and improve on the issues happening in this country. I don’t think it will be in the form of protesting during the anthem. I say ‘during’ because it’s crazy that the narrative changed to we were protesting the anthem and that wasn’t the case. I think we’re going to take a different approach to how we’re going to be active.”
Reid previously said he was willing to accept the consequences of his prominent role in organizing respectful anthem protests over the past two seasons, including a possible blackballing from teams.
“I would say I understand that’s[blackballing] 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.”
“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.”
However, in recent days, Reid resolved to find new ways to engage the community, stating “You have to change with the times,” and that protests during the anthem have run their course.
Reid has heard from his agent about interests from teams, but money hasn’t been discussed. Last week, he accused owners of discouraging front offices from pursuing him.
The first-round pick of the 49ers in 2013 registered 10 interceptions and 36 passes defended, playing both safety positions and some linebacker in his five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
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