Free-agent safety Eric Reid filed a collusion grievance against the NFL last week, accusing league owners of actively colluding in order to keep him from being signed, due to his past decision to protest racial injustice by kneeling for the national anthem. Now, the NFLPA has filed a separate grievance against the league on Reid’s behalf.
Here is the statement just released by the union:
The NFLPA has filed a non-injury grievance and a system arbitrator case on behalf of free agent safety Eric Reid. Prior to the start of the current NFL off-season, our Union directed the agents of free agent players who had participated in peaceful on-field demonstrations to collect, memorialize and report any relevant information about potential violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by teams. These cases were filed based upon the following:
- There is no League rule that prohibits players from demonstrating during the national anthem.
- The NFL has made it clear both publicly and to the NFLPA that they would respect the rights of players to demonstrate.
- The Collective Bargaining Agreement definitively states that League (NFL) rules supersede any conflicting club rules.
- According to our information, a club appears to have based its decision not to sign a player based on the player’s statement that he would challenge the implementation of a club’s policy prohibiting demonstration, which is contrary to the League policy.
- At least one club owner has asked preemployment interview questions about a player’s intent to demonstrate. We believe these questions are improper, given League policy.
Our Union continues to monitor these developments.
It looks like the union will argue that the Bengals—likely the team being referenced in the fourth and fifth bullet points of the statement above—violated the CBA when they based their decision to not sign Reid on answers he gave to team owner Mike Brown’s questions about Reid’s plans to kneel in the future. The union’s next step will be to present its argument to an arbitration panel.