Panthers safety Eric Reid, an ardent supporter of Colin Kaepernick from the moment Kaepernick began to protest systemic opression of minorities during the national anthem three years ago, continues to loudly support Kaepernick. And to oppose those who undermine Kaepernick’s mission, and his sacrifice.
Jay-Z has landed on Reid’s radar this week, due to a wide-ranging deal with the NFL that resulted from negotiations that clearly didn’t begin with Jay-Z saying something like, “Until Colin Kaepernick has a job in the NFL, we’re wasting each other’s time.”
Reid has spent some of his time calling out the move on social media. After Friday night’s preseason game, Reid had some things to say about Jay-Z’s decision from the Carolina locker room.
“Jay-Z claimed to be a supporter of Colin,” Reid said. “Wore his jersey. Told people not to perform at the Super Bowl because of the treatment that the NFL did to Colin. Now he’s going to be a part owner and . . . . “
Reid paused for a second or two before ending his thought with this: “It’s kind of despicable.”
“When has Jay-Z ever taken a knee, to come out and tell us that we’re past kneeling?” Reid also said. “Yes, he’s done a lot of great work. A lot of great social justice work. But for you to get paid to go into an NFL press conference and say that we’re past kneeling? Again, asisine. Players Coalition 2.0. He got paid to take the bullets that he’s taking now, because we’re not having it.”
Reid likewise has some choice words for ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith, who echoed Jay-Z’s call to not get caught up in the fact that Kaepernick is unemployed when assessing the potential benefits of the NFL/Roc Nation deal.
“The order of events that happened, all right?” Reid said. “We were professional athletes first. Then we started protesting systemic oppression. Then Colin lost his job because of protesting for justice. Us fighting for Colin to get a job is returning him to the status quo of being an employee. We didn’t advocate for him to lose his job along the way. I think it’s ludicrous for somebody like Stephen A. to make a statement like that, it’s asinine.”
Indeed it is. The NFL can’t pretend to have gotten the message about social justice without ensuring that the messenger receives his own specific brand of it. Of course, that would entail admitting that Kaepernick’s extended unemployment had far more to do with non-football issues than his actual or perceived football skills.
So it’s not surprising that the league would prefer to simply ignore the corner into which it painted itself. Thanks to people like Reid, who risks being shunned like Kaepernick for speaking out, it’s not being ignored.