For the first time since last season, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid elected to take a knee during the National Anthem. Reid had not taken a knee the first two games, but recent events in Charlottesville coupled with a false narrative being spread led him to re-think his stance.
“Just had a change of heart. Lot of thinking, lot of praying. Talking to Colin. When we started last year, if you recall, we said our goal was to raise awareness and shed light on the issues that were happening in our country. I think we accomplished that goal. What I was upset about was the narrative, the false narrative, that was being told about us, people were saying that we’re un-American, that we’re against police entirely, and the military. That just wasn’t true. At first I thought that was a small sacrifice to pay to get the word out to raise that awareness. I settled with thinking raising that awareness was victory.
"Then fast forward to Charlottesville and the country sees what an un-American protest really looks like. And that’s when I had my change of heart. Because what Colin, Eli, and I did was a peaceful protest fueled by faith in God to help make our country a better place. And I feel like I need to regain control of that narrative and not let people say that what we’re doing is un-American, because it’s not, it’s completely American. We’re doing it because we want equality for everybody. We want our country to be a better place. So that’s why I decided to resume the protest.”
Reid informed the team’s PR staff ahead of time, knowing that it would raise some questions. They gave Kyle Shanahan a heads-up, who after the game said he was aware it was going to happen, but was not concerned about it while preparing for the game.
Reid also used Colin Kaepernick’s bicep-kiss celebration after a big hit on Adam Thielen. He said after the game that he did it last week and nobody noticed. He said it was, “just a shout-out to my brother. I miss him and hopefully I’ll see him on the field one day.”
Reid is currently on the fifth year of his rookie contract, and will be a free agent after this season. He was asked if he had considered whether or not teams might hold this against him.
“I have. This has been fueled by my faith in God. That’s the only reason I do it. You can’t serve God and money. So, if I’m not on the team next year, I’ll be at home unhappy that I’m not on the team, but I’ll be satisfied knowing that I did what I believed was right, and that’s being a voice for the voiceless and standing up for the oppressed.”
Reid says he plans on continuing the protest through the season.