Former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid once joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem before games. And according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, he has now joined Kaepernick in another way: in filing a collusion grievance against the NFL.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) May 2, 2018
Reid is widely believed to be one of the better safeties in the NFL, a guy who could start on most teams. And yet, with the vast majority of NFL free agents signed and the league’s draft in the rearview mirror, he remains unemployed.
It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the reason why. Reid has been, next to Kaepernick, the most prominent player-activist in the NFL. He was an early adopter of Kaepernick’s kneeling protest and has refused to stand during the national anthem over the past two seasons despite immense public pressure. Furthermore, he declined to work with the NFL as part of the Malcolm Jenkins-led Players Coalition, out of suspicion about the league’s motives in donating money to social-justice causes.
Common sense says that Reid’s activism has played a decisive role in his continued unemployment.
Of course, that fact alone doesn’t make a collusion case. To prove collusion, Reid will have to demonstrate that the 32 teams are coordinating to keep him unsigned, not reaching the same conclusion separately. And unless there’s some sort of memo out there that his lawyers can get their hands on, that won’t be easy.
We’d like to say that talent will win out and that Reid will wind up with a job before the season starts, but Kaepernick’s situation reminds us that won’t necessarily be the case. If a quarterback-starved league can ignore a signal-caller who threw 16 touchdowns against only four interceptions, it can probably pass on a versatile safety who had 52 tackles and two interceptions in 13 games last year. And there’s probably not anything Reid or his lawyers can do about it.