Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has often — incorrectly — cited the First Amendment rights of players to protest the national anthem. Because of this, Rivera believes he has no place to comment on players who exercise their “rights,” in protesting the flag.
Though, as far as Panthers safety Eric Reid is concerned, he doesn’t care whether Rivera has a problem with his protests or not.
When asked by reporters what difference it would make if his coach took issue with his anthem protests, Reid was clear that it made no difference at all.
Reid told ESPN:
Very respectfully, he doesn’t have a choice. He’s entitled to his opinion, but I know what my rights are. His family was a military family much like many of my people were in the military. My cousin just got back from Afghanistan. My mom was in the armed services. My uncle was enlisted. The list goes on.
But when they get home they’re still black in America. They’re going to fight the same wars when they get home and still face the same things I’m talking about. So I get encouragement from my family that served in the armed forces because they agree with what I’m saying.
Reid’s ignorance on the subject of his rights, is surpassed only by the arrogance in which he talks about the subject. The First Amendment, the first of ten amendments which constitute the Bill of Rights, does not regulate private institutions like the NFL.
“The First Amendment doesn’t apply to private institutions,” Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley Law and a constitutional law expert told the Washington Post. “Private employers can fire employees for their speech without having to worry about the First Amendment.”
Therefore, Reid’s “right” to protest the anthem comes only from the fact that his current employer doesn’t have a problem with him doing so. It doesn’t stem from the Constitution, or any other legal document which grants people their rights. If his employer did have a problem with it and told him to stop, Reid would not be able to cite a First Amendment right to speech or protest in his defense.
Despite this glaring and obvious misreading of Constitutional law, not a single reporter has challenged Reid on his flawed assertion.
Reid was the first player to join Colin Kaepernick after the former 49er quarterback began his anthem protests in the preseason of 2016. After the 2017 season, the former 49er went unsigned and joined Kaepernick in his collusion grievance against the league. In which both players alleged that owners had conspired to keep them out of the league due to their anthem protests.
Reid was signed by the Panthers in September. Despite signing with Carolina, Reid is not barred from continuing as a part of the collusion grievance.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn