Eric Reid, the free-agent safety who became the first NFL player to join Colin Kaepernik’s national anthem protest two seasons ago, has now also joined his former teammate in filing a collusion grievance against the league.
According to NBC Sports, in argument virtually identical to the one presented by Kaepernik, the former 49er maintains that NFL teams have launched a coordinated effort to distance themselves from players determined to be bad for business because of their roles in the protests.
The NFL Player’s Association said it fully supports Reid’s efforts in the case.
“Our union is aware that Eric Reid and his legal representatives filed a collusion claim, which will be heard through the arbitration process as spelled out in our Collective Bargaining Agreement,” the NFLPA said in a statement. “Our union supports Eric and we are considering other legal options to pursue.”
Critics of the move argue that it’s completely legitimate for an NFL team to reject a player who has protested the anthem in the past or may do so in the future. Conversely, supporters say players who protest are well within the rights given to them by the league. Whatever the case, the crux of Kapernik and Reid’s argument is that it’s not permissible for teams to coordinate when it comes to deciding whether to hire or not hire players.
Reid, who’s been a free agent for nearly two months, has only been shown interest by the Cincinnati Bengals. And that visit ended without Reid receiving an offer when he refused to give owner Mike Brown a commitment on not protesting in the future.