‘We’ve got to keep fighting. Got to keep agitating…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) With the NFL season just a month away, the controversy over players kneeling during the national anthem will return for its fourth season—if Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid has any say.
“If a day comes that I feel like we’ve addressed those issues, and our people aren’t being discriminated against or being killed over traffic violations, then I’ll decide it’s time to stop protesting,” Reid told the Charlotte Observer. “I haven’t seen that happen.”
The statement echoed past comments the Louisiana native has made—including, most notably, in a New York Times op-ed published in September 2017, where he outlined his rationale for the unpatriotic act.
Reid said he still saw an urgency to deliver the message, which he hoped would put political heat on lawmakers to take some kind of action.
“We’ve got to keep fighting,” Reid added. “Got to keep agitating. Got to keep making sure that we put pressure on the people who make the laws, and the decisions, in this country.”
It remained unclear, however, what sort of resolution would be enough to satisfy the kneelers. On the contrary, Reid said he thought progress seemed to be sliding in reverse of late.
“It feels like we’re going backwards,” Reid said. “You’d like to think we’re past certain things, the way we treat people. I thought we were at a time where you love your neighbor as yourself. But as I’ve studied history—it hasn’t repeated itself necessarily, but it’s dressed a little different and is acting the same.”
He did not comment on whether the divisiveness of his protest may have contributed to the compounding malaise.
Kaepernick, who was benched as the starting signal-caller during the 2016 season, did not renew his contract the following year. Since then, he has remained an unsigned free agent, with an increasingly unlikely chance of returning to the NFL.
However, he has only gained in exposure—and wealth—after scoring a highly lucrative contract as a pitchman for Nike.
He most recently ignited scandal anew by insisting that the apparel giant pull a line of shoes featuring the American “Betsy Ross” flag from its original colonial days, claiming the flag carried racist connotations.
Kaepernick and Reid also settled a lawsuit against the NFL in which they accused team owners of discrimination and collusion for their apparent blacklisting—even after Reid landed a new team.
Other high-profile athletes have since joined in the kneeling effort, such as women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe, an LGBT activist and vocal critic of President Donald Trump, who praised Reid and his team during a recent visit to Charlotte.
“Shoutout to the Carolina Panthers for a) seeing Eric Reid’s talent and b) not only supporting his right to do that but really putting their full weight behind that,” she said. “I’m a big Panthers fan now.”