I’m not going to spend too long telling you about the recent op-ed written by San Francisco 49ers strong safety Eric Reid and published in the New York Times. That would take away from Reid’s short, powerful message that should be read by every single person who thinks they have an opinion on the protest that Reid takes part in.
Reid talks about former teammate Colin Kaepernick, who started the movement, and points out what I believe to be true: that anybody who knows how football works knows that Kaepernick is out of the league for reasons other than his play on the field.
Reid says he knows that he’s risking the same treatment by standing up, but references a quote from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “A time comes when silence is betrayal.”
He also talks about the protests as a sign of respect and before I stop writing, I want to single this out because I think it’s the most important thing he’s written given the detractors to this movement and means of protest.
After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former N.F.L. player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.
Reid goes on to say that he is “baffled” that his protest is being painted as disrespectful to the country, flag and military personnel. He says that he loves his country, and quotes James Baldwin in saying that’s the main reason he insists on the right to criticize it.
His comments come in the wake of derogatory remarks from President Trump on Friday, when Trump took the opportunity to condemn NFL players for their protests — not long after referring to actual white supremacists as “very fine people.” Sunday saw dozens of NFL players take a knee or express other forms of support for the movement, while most NFL owners also weighed in with statements about unity.
I do think it’s important for people to understand that the protests on Sunday were not about unity, and the NFL is looking for an excuse to not talk about Kaepernick, as my colleague has pointed out at SB Nation.
Either way, Reid’s piece in the New York Times is one you should look at. It’s a powerful read, and a short one. Give it a look.