Former San Francisco 49ers player Eric Reid has been described by the media as the new Colin Kaepernick. In some ways the label applies — but there are also clear differences between the two.
Reid was the first player to join his former teammate’s protest against police brutality and racism. He and Kaepernick remain friends; the pair was recently spotted working out together. At an October meeting between NFL owners and players, Reid spoke up in defense of Kaepernick, and he even wore a Kaepernick t-shirt, according to reports.
Despite his impressive stats, Reid, the first player to kneel alongside Kaepernick, remains unsigned.
“I feel like [Kaepernick] was hung out to dry,” Reid said. “Everyone in here is talking about how much they support us.”
“Nobody stepped up and said we support Colin’s right to do this. We all let him become Public Enemy No. 1 in this country, and he still doesn’t have a job.”
Now, it seems, no one is willing to step up in Reid’s defense.
Demographics tell an important story. According to a
report from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), the NFL’s players are nearly 70 percent Black. In sharp contrast, quarterbacks are only 19 percent Black. Head coaches are only 21.9 percent Black. There is not a single Black owner of a team.
Like Kaepernick, Reid has filed a grievance against the NFL. He is also alleging collusion, and even retained Kaepernick’s attorney.
Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula said the league needs a Black spokesperson — despite still not having any Black owners.
One of the greatest differences between the players is their stats, though. While Kaepernick did not display a poor performance during his last season with the 49ers, his stats received mixed reviews (although many people agreed that, when measured against other quarterbacks, he should have at least been signed as a backup).
In Reid’s case, it is not such a gray area. He spent most of his career with the 49ers as a safety and then stepped in as a linebacker. Notably, he remains unsigned despite being ranked “above average” and the No. 30 safety overall by
Pro Football Focus.
USA Today called it “odd” that Reid is still on the market because in recent seasons, players with similar numbers “were snapped up within the first few days of the offseason.”
Was collusion involved, or did Reid’s fate occur organically The Washington Post pointed out:
“Proving collusion is virtually impossible without a smoking gun. What’s clear, however, is that the owners don’t
need to actually collude. No coordination was required for them to simply decide, as a group, that Reid will be punished just as Kaepernick was.
“They don’t want the president yelling that they’re anti-American because they aren’t ‘firing the SOBs.’ They’re also aware that most of their season ticket-holders are white, and many of them booed loudly when players took a knee last season.”
Following Kaepernick’s ouster, Reid knew all along he could wind up with the same fate as his friend.
As early as December he acknowledged that he may not be signed and said he is “completely fine with it.”
“The things that I’ve done, I stand by, and I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs,” he said at the time. “Like I said, I’m fine with whatever outcome happens because of that.”
And he’s very aware that any directive to silence him comes from the very white, very top of the NFL food chain. He wrote on Twitter in March: