Panthers safety Eric Reid got into it with Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins before their Week 6 game, and then called Jenkins a “sellout” and “neo-colonialist” afterward. Reid’s issue with Jenkins stems from how Jenkins guided the Players Coalition, which came close to cutting a crappy deal with the NFL that was meant to put an end to pregame protests against police brutality and systemic racism. After Sunday’s game against the Eagles, Reid spoke about his specific grievances with Jenkins and the coalition.
You can see Reid’s full comments in the video here:
Reid, a former member of the Players Coalition, began by sharing some details of a meeting that took place between members of the coalition and NFL owners last year, in which a plan to end the protests was hatched. Reid reiterated much of what Slate’s Jeremy Stahl reported in the aftermath of the meeting, which is that the NFL managed to steamroll the coalition and leave the meeting wielding all the power.
Reid said that the coalition went into the meeting with no intention of negotiating an end to the protests, and were only there to encourage the owners to make meaningful donations to social justice causes. Reid recalled a number of owners in the meeting saying that the protests needed to end, including Bills owner Terry Pegula saying, “We need to put a band-aid on this, and we need a black figurehead to do it.” Reid said that after the meeting the coalition huddled up and reaffirmed that they had no intention of negotiating an agreement to end the protests.
“That changed the last week of November, when Malcolm called me on the phone and asked if the NFL made a donation to the Players Coalition, would that be enough for me to stop protesting. He said they were willing to do $5 million,” said Reid. “I told him no, we’ve already established two times prior to this that we weren’t negotiating an end to the protest. He then asked me, ‘Well how much would it take?’ I ended that conversation, I reported back to other players what he said to me, and at that point we removed ourselves from the Players Coalition.”
The coalition went on without Reid and the other members who left, and in May the NFL unilaterally unveiled a new policy that would allow teams to fine their own players for protesting on the field. The NFL later abandoned this policy in a panic on the eve of the season, but Reid blames Jenkins for its original implementation. “We spent weeks on the phone talking about this deal and saying it wasn’t an end to the protests, and he made the decision on his own to move forward and essentially allow the NFL to hide behind his black face, as Terry Pegula said, to make a change to the anthem policy to force us to stand,” said Reid.
Reid then got into the specifics of the league’s proposal to donate money to programs that would assist black communities, describing the plan as “highly incentivized,” “unsustainable,” and designed to put the onus on the players rather than the owners. “Ninety percent of the funds had to be invested by players to make the next year viable,” said Reid. “So if one team across the league doesn’t invest 90 percent of what needed to be raised, then next year it wasn’t happening. That’s what it was when I was involved with it, I removed myself, who knows what it is now. You’d have to ask them.” He also said that the NFL’s original proposal was to shift funds away from the league’s breast cancer awareness and salute to service programs, and that he told them doing so would be a bad idea.
The conversation then turned toward Reid calling Jenkins a “neo-colonialist.” Reid explained his use of words: “When I say neo-colonialism, that’s what I mean. It’s funny, Terry Pegula said, ‘black figurehead.’ That’s literally the definition, when you use a black figurehead to push a white agenda, and then hide behind that black figurehead to get your agenda accomplished.”