Eric Reid Returns to NFL, Kneels During National Anthem

Eric Reed #25 of the Carolina Panthers warms up during their game against the New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium on October 7 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Eric Reid returned to the NFL on Sunday and he was immediately back in the spotlight as he resumed his protest against social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem.

The Carolina Panthers safety stood as the anthem began before taking a knee, emulating the gesture first made famous by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

Reid was among the first players to support his then teammate's protest two years ago and, like Kaepernick, he filed a grievance accusing NFL team owners of colluding with each other to prevent them from returning to the league.

Kaepernick became a free agent ahead of last season but wasn't given a tryout by any of the 32 franchises, while Reid found himself without a team at the end of the last campaign.

While Kaepernick is still a free agent, Reid signed with the Panthers last month to replace Da'Norris Searcy, who was placed on injured reserve after suffering his second concussion in a month.

While he's now back in the NFL, Reid insisted his fight against social injustice would continue and that his collusion suit against the league would "without a doubt" go ahead.

"Everybody in this [locker room], everybody who watches this game [and] everybody in this country knows what we're talking about," Reid told reporters on Sunday after the Panthers' 33-31 win against the New York Giants, as per ESPN.

"It's the truth. You can't deny it. We've just got to do more to make this better.

"People who don't want things to change, people who want to maintain the status quo [...] they have to subvert. They have to distract. They have to redirect from what we're trying to accomplish. We have to stay strong. We have to stay diligent."

Reid was the only Carolina player to protest but some of his teammates last week indicated they were prepared to support the former Louisiana State University student.

"Eric knows what's best for Eric and what Eric needs to do," Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith was quoted as saying.

"We all understand what he's fighting for, so if that's something he decides to do, that's what he decides to do. But that has absolutely nothing to do with this locker room, the way we approach the game, the way we prepare and what we're trying to do."

While Reid was the only player to take a knee in Charlotte on Sunday, Miami Dolphins receivers Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills did the same in Cincinnati. The duo have knelt in protest in every game so far this season and the latter has done so since 2016.

In response to the protests, Kaepernick took to Twitter to praise the trio.

"My brother @E_Reid 35, with @KSTiLLS and @iThinklsee12, continue to take a knee against systemic oppression," he tweeted.

"They are unwavering in their conviction! #ImWithReid"

My Brother @E_Reid35, with @KSTiLLS and @iThinkIsee12, continue to take a knee against systemic oppression. They are unwavering in their conviction! #ImWithReid

— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) October 7, 2018

While appreciative of the support, Reid admitted he would rather see his former teammate out on the field instead.

"It's bittersweet. We won the game, but Colin [Kaepernick] is home with my kids," Reid said, as reported by USA Today. "He should be playing."

Kaepernick's collusion suit against the NFL will now go to trial after it was announced in August that the league had failed to get the lawsuit dismissed.

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