Perhaps it’s not surprising that the newest Carolina Panther, defensive back Eric Reid, was shown on the team’s official Twitter signing his contract and holding his right fist in the air.
Reid signed a one-year deal with the Panthers as a free agent Thursday after spending five years with the 49ers. He was a Pro Bowl pick as a rookie and has 10 interceptions in 70 games. But Reid became involved in the NFL national anthem controversy after deciding to kneel alongside teammate Colin Kaepernick to protest police brutality in the black community.
Many NFL fans, including President Donald Trump, viewed the kneeling as disrespectful to the flag and the nation. And when Reid wasn’t signed this season after having 67 tackles and two interceptions, he said his decision to kneel could leave him unsigned and stuck on the free agent market this season. The same happened to Kaepernick in 2017.
“I wouldn’t use the word concerned,” Reid told reporters last December. “I would say I understand it’s a possibility. And I’m completely fine with it. The things that I’ve done, I stand by, and I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs.”
Reid filed a collusion grievance against the NFL in May after he was unsigned in the first six weeks of free agency, and that remains unchanged after signing with the Panthers, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport.
So when Reid finally signed Thursday, he had his fist in the air reminiscent (and probably intentionally so) of U.S. Olympic 200-meter runners Tommie Smith (gold medal) and John Carlos (bronze), who protested for human rights on the podium at the 1968 Olympics.
Reid was a trending topic on sports talk TV social media. Here’s a sampling.
▪ Reid’s new teammate, Torrey Smith, applauded the Panthers’ latest hire, as did Kaepernick and former Panther DeAngelo Williams.
▪ ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith says it’s good that Reid has a job and believes Kaepernick should be next. He said Reid “never should been pushed out.”
▪ Fox Sports’ Shannon Sharpe applauded the Panthers for taking a player who could help the team.
▪ ESPN’s Darren Woodson said Reid could start for the majority of the teams in the league.
▪ Here is a sampling of social media comments