San Francisco 49er Eric Reid shocked even the left-leaning Slate when he told the magazine in an interview Saturday that the NFL intends to use money slated for breast cancer charities and the "Salute to Service" veterans fund to pay for a seven-year, $89 million "social justice" program designed to placate protesting players.
The NFL announced the nearly-$100 million initiative last week as a way of "settling" with a coalition of players who have been kneeling during the national anthem since the start of the season — a group led by now-former 49er, out-of-work second string quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins and retired NFLer Anquan Boldin.
At the time of the announcement, however, details about where the money would come from were unclear. The NFL said only that owners would be allowed to allocate funds into “projects dealing with criminal justice reform, law enforcement/community relations and education.” But, Reid says, the money spent on these projects isn't new — it's simply being reallocated from existing charitable giving projects.
“In the discussion that we had, Malcolm [Jenkins] conveyed to us — based on discussions that he had with the NFL — that the money would come from funds that are already allocated to breast cancer awareness and Salute to Service,” Reid told Slate. “So it would really be no skin off the owners’ backs: They would just move the money from those programs to this one.”
That didn't sit well with Reid, who was part of the coalition of players who had been protesting the national anthem. He and several others say they elected to leave the bargaining group because they didn't believe it was fair to pull money from other worthwhile causes to fund "social justice" projects, particularly when players have insisted all year that their protests aren't anti-military, only to have their cause pull millions from a fund to help veterans.
They, of course, blamed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the idea, claiming that Goodell wanted to bring the protests to an end as quickly as possible, but in such a way as to not hurt the owners too much in the process. In essence, Reid claims, Goodell wanted to pay off the kneelers in order to get the league's viewership back on track ahead of the end of the season.
The NFL didn't provide a comment to Slate on the matter.