Eric Reid says other 49ers could join in kneeling during anthem

ByNick Wagoner ESPN logo
Saturday, September 10, 2016

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid was the first teammate of quarterback Colin Kaepernick's to join him in not standing for the national anthem as part of a protest of racial inequality and oppression in the country. But he might not be the last.

On Friday afternoon, Reid said he plans to continue to kneel alongside Kaepernick when the 49ers open the season with the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football.

And while Reid and linebacker NaVorro Bowman indicated there's no momentum for a team-wide action, such as the pregame demonstration the Seattle Seahawks have planned for Sunday, Reid did leave the door open for the possibility that other teammates could join him and Kaepernick.

"There have been guys that have talked about it," Reid said. "I can't speak for what anybody is going to do and their plans for the future. I guess we'll just have to wait and see."

As of Friday afternoon, no other player has publicly declared the intention to join Kaepernick and Reid, but Reid didn't announce his plan to join Kaepernick before last week's preseason finale against San Diego, either.

Bowman said Friday he will continue to stand for the national anthem and that there hasn't been a discussion of planning something for the entire team to do.

"I plan on doing the same thing I've been doing and just trying to focus on football and get the win," Bowman said. "No one has talked about [a team-wide protest]. I feel like that's a personal issue, and guys have done a great job of keeping it personal, and no one says anything if a guy did decide to take a knee."

In the week-plus since Reid and Kaepernick kneeled in San Diego, others in the sports world have joined. Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall did the same before the Denver Broncos' game against Carolina on Thursday night.

A credit union that serves military families released Marshall as one of its ambassadors after he knelt before Thursday's game.

"Although we have enjoyed Brandon Marshall as our spokesperson over the past five months, Air Academy Federal Credit Union (AAFCU) has ended our partnership," president and CEO Glenn Strebe said in a statement. "AAFCU is a membership-based organization who has proudly served the military community for over 60 years. While we respect Brandon's right of expression, his actions are not a representation of our organization and membership. We wish Brandon well on his future endeavors."

Reid, who counts Under Armour as his lone endorsement, said he hasn't heard any concerns from the athletic apparel company, but he said he understood the potential consequences when he decided to take a knee in the first place.

"When I decided to do this, it came with the understanding that that's the risk you take," Reid said. "It's business. I studied business in college, and people don't want to be associated with bad press. and that's understandable. That's cool with me, but I feel like I'm doing something bigger than money.

"If I lose an Under Armour endorsement ... I wouldn't be worried about it, because to me, in my heart, I'm doing something that's for the benefit of a lot of people."

Other athletes who have joined in kneeling during the anthem include Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane and women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe. Reid also got in touch with former Marine Staff Sgt. Joey Jones -- he lost both legs in Afghanistan -- who offered his help to Reid and Kaepernick's cause.

Reid said "a lot" of players have reached out to offer support over the past week, but that many of them aren't sure how they want to go about showing that support.

"A lot of guys are being supportive -- they want to be involved," Reid said. "A lot of guys have expressed that they don't know if they're comfortable with kneeling, but they do support the cause so they're looking for ways to get involved, and I applaud them for that."

On Thursday, 49ers chief executive officer Jed York announced that the 49ers charitable foundation will be donating $1 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation to help "improve racial and economic inequality," causes that are at the center of Kaepernick and Reid's protest.

That's in addition to the $1 million plus proceeds from his jersey sales that Kaepernick already has declared he will donate. Reid said he was excited to see the organization offer such support.

"Any time you do something, a protest, you know there's going to be backlash," Reid said. "You know you can't satisfy [everyone]. But for our organization to step up, it feels like we're supported by the NFL. That's huge. It gives substance to what we're doing. Our owners believe in what we're doing. It kind of gives me encouragement to move forward."