After nine months of unemployment, free agent safety Eric Reid played his first game as a Carolina Panther on Sunday. Reid has been one of Colin Kaepernick’s strongest supporters when he started the national anthem protests in 2016. The safety knelt with Kaepernick and continue to kneel after the activist quarterback left the San Francisco 49ers.
“I know that he said that he wouldn’t protest, it should not have mattered,” analyst Stephen A. Smith said. “This is not an individual that should have been pushed out of the league and denied an opportunity to work.”
During the Panthers game against the New York Giants, Reid kneeled during the national anthem. According to FOX broadcaster Pam Oliver, Panthers head coach Ron Riviera planned to have him play 25-30 snaps during the game.
To show his support, Kaepernick posted a photo of Reid kneeling on his Instagram account.
“Continue to take a knee against systematic oppression,” Kaepernick stated on social media. “They are unwavering in their conviction! #ImWithReid.”
Reid made three solo tackles in the Panthers’ 33-31 victory; this contributed to Carolina’s 47 combined tackles that afternoon. During mhis introductory press conference, Reid explained why the protest is important.
“Next year will be 2019, it’ll mark 400 years since the first slaves touched the soil in this country, that’s 400 years of systemic oppression,” Reid said. “This has been happening since my people have gotten here and so I just felt the need to say something about it.”
Reid became a free agent in March, the 49ers offered a deal to him as back up to three-year veteran Jaquiski Tartt. Carolina offered Reid a starting position in their one-year contract of a $1 million base value.
When Panthers starting corner Da’Norris Searcy was put on injured reserve after sustaining a concussion, the Carolina front office contacted Reid right away.
“[Reid] has been a starting safety in the NFL and has played at a high level throughout his career,” general manager Marty Hurney stated. “[Reid] was the top of our list. He is a physical safety with good ball skills and play making ability.”
The NFLPA filed a grievance against the NFL for Reid alleging that franchise owners colluded against him getting a contract in the NFL.
A native of Baton Rouge, LA, Reid was drafted by San Francisco in the first round of the 2013 draft. He caught four interceptions during his rookie season. Reid made 258 total tackles in his career and was a Pro Bowl selection in 2013. In his final season with the 49ers, he started in 12 games.