Ostracised former Pro Bowler who protested with Kaepernick finally lands at new NFL team

Eric Reid was the second NFL player to protest against police brutality and racial injustice during the anthem, joining then-teammate Colin Kaepernick.

Eric Reid (R) has been an outspoken advocate for Colin Kaepernick
Eric Reid (R) has been an outspoken advocate for Colin Kaepernick

THE CAROLINA PANTHERS have announced the signing of Eric Reid, the former Pro Bowl safety who became the second NFL player to kneel for the American national anthem after Colin Kaepernick.

Reid became a free agent in the off-season after five years with the San Francisco 49ers, during which he started 69 games, made 264 tackles and caught 10 interceptions. The 26-year-old was selected for the Pro Bowl — the NFL’s all-star showpiece — in 2013.

Like former San Fran team-mate Kaepernick, Reid too has filed a grievance against the NFL, alleging that franchise owners colluded in order to ensure his continued unemployment after he joined ‘Kap’ in protests against police brutality and racial injustice in America.

NFL's Colin Kaepernick National Anthem Protests Source: TNS/ABACA

“Eric has been a starting safety in the NFL and has played at a high level throughout his career,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement.

“After we put [starting safety] Da’Norris Searcy on injured reserve, Ron [Rivera] and I discussed our options, and Eric was at the top of our list. He is a physical safety with good ball skills and play-making ability.”

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith, who played with Kaepernick and Reid at the 49ers, called on the Charlotte-based club to recruit Reid earlier this week after star safety Searcy suffered his second concussion in five weeks and was placed on IR.

“I think we all know why he hasn’t received a call,” Smith told reporters on Tuesday. Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills stated in August that Reid’s “blackballing” by the NFL was one of the reasons he continues to kneel during the U.S. anthem.

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However, new Panthers owner David Tepper has been vocal in his support of players’ right to protest.

In a CNBC interview a fortnight ago, Tepper said of players who knelt during ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’:

“These are some of the most patriotic people and best people. These are great young men. So to say that [they aren't patriotic] makes me so aggravated and angry. It’s just wrong, it’s dead wrong.”

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