Fooch’s update: The withdrawal of Reid and Thomas coincides with the NFL submitting a proposal to the players that would involve contributing $100 million to “fund causes considered critically important to African-American communities.” According to ESPN’s Jim Trotter, the NFL hopes this will “effectively end” the peaceful protests started by Colin Kaepernick last year.
The money includes at least $89 million over a seven-year period, involving contributions from players at the local level equaling $250,000 per team. The remainder of the money would come through fundraising via telethons and game-worn jersey auctions.
The withdrawal of Reid and Thomas would suggest there is concern that this is simply a matter of the NFL trying to buy the players’ silence for what is effectively a pittance in the bigger picture of NFL revenues.
San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid and former 49ers player Michael Thomas are among a group of players who announced on Wednesday that they are withdrawing from the Players’ Coalition. The message tweeted by Reid and Thomas said the following:
With much thought and consideration, I’ve decided to officially withdraw my involvement in The Players Coalition founded by Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin.
The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL Athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism. However, Malcolm and Anquan can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole.
We will continue to have dialogue with the league to find equitable solutions but without Malcolm and Anquan as our representatives.
The Players’ Coalition is a group of players led by Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin, among others, who have attempted to work with the NFL, and also get involved in work with politicians and the police to build relationships there.
Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation, offered some intriguing comments on why this might have happened. Zirin is closely connected with Colin Kaepernick, Michael Bennett, and some of the other activist players. He tweeted the following after Reid’s tweet:
The tension between players seeking dialogue with police/politicians & those wanting justice not peace has been there since the beginning. https://t.co/wM3ZUCUyuF— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) November 29, 2017
Change from above vs change from below. Dialogue vs grassroots organizing. Inside vs. outside. Piecemeal reform vs. radical response.— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) November 29, 2017
From start, there has been a right wing & a left wing inside broader struggle of players. Happens in just about every mass mvmt in history— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) November 29, 2017
I've heard players upset behind scenes that Jenkins/Boldin were taking focus away from where Kap started: white supremacist police violence— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) November 29, 2017
It's actually healthier for players that these differences are out in the open instead of hidden behind some kumbaya. So thank you @E_Reid35— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) November 29, 2017
It is not surprising there are differences of opinion on how this process is playing out, and also the very issues that are being contested. Activism has always had a dichotomy even within a singular group. We are seeing it here, but as Zirin suggested, there is something healthier to having this out in the open. I imagine there will be further commentary on the subject, particularly with the 49ers first media availability of the week scheduled for later this afternoon. I imagine Reid might get a question or two if he is in the locker room.