Eric Reid said Wednesday he will continue to kneel during the national anthem but that he was optimistic the NFL soon will provide alternative platforms that will allay his and other players’ need to protest.
Reid spoke one day after he and other players met with Commissioner Roger Goodell and a handful of owners, including the 49ers’ Jed York, over what has become such a polarizing issue in the country. Television ratings for NFL games are down again this year and the protests, which began in 2016 with then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, are believed to be one of the reasons.
Everyone involved in Wednesday’s meeting seemed optimistic the NFL could provide players with a suitable platform for the racial and social issues – including police brutality – that are behind the protests.
“It doesn’t change our plans just yet,” Reid said. “Like I said, it’s a great starting point. Nothing’s set in stone yet. So nothing’s going to change from my point of view moving forward until we get a more concrete plan and I feel like I don’t need to protest anymore because the NFL is providing a better platform.”
Reid said the ratings decreases were discussed.
“The players brought it up,” he said. “We knew that this was affecting their business. One owner, in particular, mentioned sponsorships that he had lost. But at the same time, we really felt like the owners that were at that meeting had a concern about the issues. … It was encouraging.”
Reid said that while in New York he met with Kaepernick, who lives there but who was leery of attending the meeting and upstaging the event. He said some of the ideas he and the quarterback discussed last year in terms of the NFL using its high profile to address minority issues were discussed with owners.
Last year one of the questions about Kaepernick, who was recovering from multiple surgeries while on a vegan diet, was whether he could attain his previous playing weight. That’s no longer a concern, Reid said.
“He was joking with me because his arms got big,” Reid said. “Said I’ve got to get my curl game up. … He looked good.”