Maybe the Carolina Panthers thought newly-signed safety Eric Reid wouldn’t kneel during the anthem, like he did in San Francisco.
After all, on March 22, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch, reported after talking to the then-free agent safety, that “Reid also said he does not intend to kneel during the anthem this season.”
“I’m just going to consider different ways to be active,” Reid told Branch during an event at Stanford University. “Different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country. To improve the issues happening in this country.”
Perhaps the operative word is “consider,” because before his first game with the Panthers, on Sunday, he knelt during the anthem.
Why did he kneel before the Panthers 33-31 win over the New York Giants? Because he feels the nation still has work to do on racial injustice and police brutality, the two issues that started the movement in 2016, led by former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. Reid, who is close with Kaepernick, knelt during the anthem during the 2016-17 seasons in San Francisco.
Reid isn’t trilled with the state of the country right now, including the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday.
“This morning, I found out the officer that killed Tamir Rice was re-hired,” Reid said. “I feel like that’s unacceptable. (Brett) Kavanaugh was voted into the Supreme Court — that’s unacceptable. I feel like our country is moving backward, and the only way to change that is to keep talking about it, to keep raising awareness. Keep doing what we’re doing.”
Former Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann, who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014, has been re-hired by another Ohio police department. A grand jury didn’t indict Loehmann in the shooting of Rice.
Why Reid feels the Kavanaugh appointment is “unacceptable” is unclear because wasn’t asked to explain his opposition.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera, son of a career military officer, and known for his patriotism, isn’t interested in talking much about his new player kneeling during the anthem.
“I’m not going to talk about a guy exercising his First Amendment Rights,” Rivera said after the Giants-Panther game. “I’m going to talk about what happens on the football field.”
Some legal scholars argue the First Amendment doesn’t apply to protesting at work.
“The players are entitled to kneel if the owners allow them to,” Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz told AM-970 in New York. “Now the owners could say ‘no’ because the players don’t have a First Amendment right in relation to the owners. They only have a First Amendment right in relation to the government.”
How did the Carolina fans react to Reid kneeling during the anthem?
“Some fans in attendance Sunday left the game when Reid took a knee,” wrote Brendan Marks of the Charlotte Observer.
Shelley Wiggins of Gastonia was one of the fans who left.
“I mean, I understand he feels like he’s doing something noble, but to teach a generation of children to hate the police and America is not the right way to fix the problem,” Wiggins told the Charlotte Observer.
Reid believes his critics are missing the point.
“People who don’t want things to change, people who want to maintain the status quo, this is the only thing they can do,” Reid said. “They have to subvert, they have to distract, they have to redirect from what we’re trying to accomplish, and the only way to do that is to try to alter the narrative. We have to stay strong, we have to stay diligent, to make sure that that narrative doesn’t change. We, as a country, have fallen short.”
It’s unclear if signing Reid will make the Panthers fall short at the box office. Perhaps not, since most fans have already paid for their 2018 season tickets.