Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick blasted the National Football League on the league’s opening Sunday, calling the NFL’s new social justice focus “propaganda” because Eric Reid, one of the first players to support Kaepernick’s anti-racism kneeling protests, remains unsigned after being let go by the Carolina Panthers back in March.
The NFL announced earlier this year that in the wake of massive anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests that took place in nearly every major city following the death of George Floyd, who died in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department, they would set a weekly social justice priority, embrace Black Lives Matter slogans, and encourage its players to take part in demonstrations, service projects, and social justice-focused initiatives.
The NFL also committed to playing “Lift Every Voice,” the “black national anthem” before some games during opening week.
None of that matters, Kaepernick said Sunday, if Reid, his former teammate and vocal supporter, remains “blacklisted.”
“While the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black Life, they are still actively blackballing Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) for fighting for the Black community. Eric set 2 franchise records last year, and is one of the best defensive players in the league,” Kaepernick tweeted just as many of the NFL’s Sunday games were kicking off.
“He played and started all 16 games for the Carolina Panthers last season. He recorded 130 tackles and four sacks. He joined the Panthers a few weeks into the 2018 season. He recorded 71 tackles and an interception in that season.”
Reid was the first player to take part in Kaepernick’s kneeling protest, and when Kaepernick remained unsigned following his decision to turn down a one-year contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers, he co-signed a grievance against the NFL claiming that Kaepernick and players who supported his social justice efforts were being blacklisted from the league.
Kaepernick claimed that the owners were conspiring with each other — and even allegedly with President Donald Trump — to lock him out of playing again in the NFL.
The pair eventually settled. Reid went on to play for the Panthers, but Kaepernick went unsigned. He has now been out of the league since the 2017 season and, despite efforts on the part of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, remains out of the league.
“I would love to see him in the National Football League, I know there’s tons of fans who would love to see him in the National Football League but where Colin sits right now in America is where he is playing football or not, he started a conversation on a national level,” Goodell said in an interview last week. He did say, however, that Kaepernick “isn’t currently part of the conversation from within the league.”
Reid told Deadspin last week that there has been some interest: “My agents have been in communications with teams daily, but there have been no developments.”