While the man who started it all is still forced to play a full-time social justice activist rather than his former role as a mediocre quarterback in the league, Carolina Panthers' safety Eric Reid is keeping the anthem protest tradition going on the sidelines — and condemning anyone he perceives as undermning Colin Kaepernick. That loyalty hasn't gone unnoticed by the former San Francisco second-stringer.
In the latest episode of the ongoing but far-diminished NFL kneeling controversy, Reid, as he's done for every game since he joined his former teammate in protesting the country, again took a knee during the performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before his latest game. Reid further showed his loyalty to Kaepernick's cause after the loss by blasting entertainment mogul Jay-Z for choosing a "money move ... behind Colin's back."
Reid slammed Jay-Z after the game Friday — Carolina's preseason matchup against the Buffalo Bills, which the Panthers lost 14-27 — for what the safety portrayed as abandoning the league-rejected Kaepernick by partnerning with the NFL and declaring, "I think we're past kneeling..."
"For one, when has Jay-Z ever taken a knee to come out and tell us that we're past kneeling?" said Reid, in comments highlighted by National Football Post. "Yes, he's done a lot of great work, a lot of great social justice work. But for you to get paid to go into an NFL press conference and say that we’re past kneeling? Again, asinine. Players Coalition 2.0, he got paid to take the bullets that he's taking now because we’re not having it."
Reid, who joined Kaepernick in a "collusion" lawsuit settled in February — reportedly for far less money than expected — went on to accuse the league of trying to use the deal with Jay-Z to distract from their alleged "injustice" against Kaepernick, who never got picked up by a team when he chose to be a free agent after helping lead the 49ers to an abysmal 2-14 season in 2016.
"The (injustice) that's happened to Colin, they get to say, 'Look, we care about social justice, we care about the black community because we're with Jay-Z,'" Reid told reporters. "Jay-Z is doing the work for them. We all know that it's unjust that Colin isn't in an NFL locker room, the way he lost his job. But they get to pretend they care about social justice."
Kaepernick also appeared to weigh in on Jay-Z's deal with the NFL by calling on his fellow anthem protesters — who are down to just Reid and Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson — to "stay strong."
"My Brothers [Eric Reid, Kenny Stills, and Albert Wilson] continue to fight for the people, even in the face of death threats," Kaepernick posted on Instagram Sunday. "They have never moved past the people and continue to put their beliefs into action. Stay strong Brothers!!"
According to a report published in March by The Wall Street Journal, sources "briefed on the deal" say that Kaepernick and Reid settled their "collusion" lawsuit with the NFL for far less than most had anticipated, the players reportedly receiving less than $10 million total as a result of the settlement.
Kaepernick started the protest movement in preseason of the 2016 season, his final season in the league. After reporters noticed that he refused to stand for the national anthem, Kaepernick explained that he was protesting the U.S. for "oppress[ing] black people and people of color."
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."