Former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid had a free agency meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals, but members of the sports media were unhappy that the team’s owner quizzed Reid over his two seasons of protesting during the playing of the national anthem.
Reid was one of the first NFL players to join Colin Kaepernick’s protests, almost immediately taking a knee beside Kaepernick as the nation’s song played during the 2016 season. Reid continued his protests throughout the 2017 season even as Kaepernick sat out, having gone unsigned.
By the end of the 2017 season, though, Reid turned free agent and then announced that his protest against the country would come to an end. Despite that proclamation, though, Reid spent weeks waiting for even one team to take a meeting with him to discuss continuing his NFL career.
This week, it was announced that the Bengals had invited Reid to the Queen City for a look see.
During the visit, though, it appears that Bengals Owner Mike Brown had some pointed questions for Reid over his two years of protests. It was a sensible question for a team owner hoping that he would not be inviting dissent and trouble into his locker room by giving an anthem protester a shot at joining the team.
But the questions were apparently over the line as far as some members of the sports media were concerned.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, for instance, was incensed because the Bengals have “looked the other way on a variety of actual and alleged criminal activities” when signing past players, yet they are concerned over Reid’s protests. In fact, Brown noted that he would move to prevent any player from re-starting the anthem protests next season.
It was all too much for Florio.
“When it comes to one specific type of conduct that is neither illegal nor a violation of any applicable rule or provision of the relationship between the NFL and its players, that could be where Bengals owner Mike Brown draws the line,” Florio said of Reid’s visit to the Bengals.
The folks at Deadspin were also furious that Mike Brown dared to warn Reid against continued protesting.
“The Cincinnati Bengals, an NFL franchise which has employed some of the most violent players in the sport, reportedly met with free-agent safety Eric Reid, who previously protested police brutality and racial discrimination by kneeling during the national anthem,” Deadspin raged. “According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Reid’s kneeling was a red flag for Bengals owner Mike Brown.”
Deadspin also criticized Brown for asking the question and noted that the Bengals have no leg to stand on based on repeated failed seasons.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.