San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid took a knee for the national anthem during Sunday night’s preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, explaining after the game that he decided to resume his protest after conversations with Colin Kaepernick and after seeing what real “un-American” protests looked like in Charlottesville.
What Colin, [linebacker Eli Harold] and I did was a peaceful protest fueled by faith in God to help make our country a better place. I feel I needed 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 kneeled with Kaepernick during the 2016 campaign until his season ended with a torn bicep. The 49ers have been, for the most part, supportive of their players’ decisions to protest. The team, for all its flaws, is pretty progressive on social issues—or at least as progressive as an NFL team can be.
After the game last night, team owner Jed York quote-tweeted a video of Reid’s comments from Mercury News beat writer Cam Inman:
Reid, who was drafted out of LSU by the 49ers in 2013, is a free agent next year and one of the few remaining bright spots on a mostly anonymous team. He said that he understands his decision to protest could hurt his ability to get a job next year, but that he feels his moral stance is more important than his career:
This has been fueled by my faith in God. That’s the only reason I do it. You can’t serve God and money. If I’m not on the team next year, I’ll be at home unhappy I’m not on the team, but I’ll be satisfied knowing I did what was I feel was right, and that’s being a voice for the voiceless and standing up for the oppressed.
Throughout the offseason, Reid has made it abundantly clear he supports his former quarterback and the community activism Kaepernick has taken on. After stopping Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen in the second quarter, Reid stood up and kissed his bicep—Kaepernicking—in tribute to his friend.