As the NFL kicked off this weekend, players and teams continued to take a stand for social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement. Colin Kaepernick, however, was not impressed with the league's stand against systemic racism. He lashed out at the league on Twitter, accusing them of running their "propaganda", while also "blackballing" his former San Francisco 49ers teammate, Eric Reid.
"While the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black Life, they are still actively blackballing Eric Reid," Kaepernick wrote. He then added that Reid set two franchise records last year and is one of the best defensive players in the league. Kaepernick's tweet was a response to a Deadspin article about Eric Reid being blackballed. The article focused on ESPN's top remaining NFL free agents in March, which did not include Kaepernick. Last year, Reid had four stacks in 16 games and finished with career-high 91 tackles.
While the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black Life, they are still actively blackballing Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) for fighting for the Black community. Eric set 2 franchise records last year, and is one of the best defensive players in the league. https://t.co/KQXTaOCcnU— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 13, 2020
Both Colin Kaepernick and Reid participated in the 2016 protests against police brutality and social injustice where they kneeled during the national anthem before the NFL games began. Kaepernick has not played since 2017, while Reid was released in March this year by the Carolina Panthers, who he joined in 2018. Earlier, both players penned letters to the NFL, accusing owners and the league of preventing their employment because of their protests.
Across the league, NFL Players continued to bring attention to social injustices that have persisted in the Black community for many years. We stand by the players in the quest for equality. pic.twitter.com/SDSZf35HKk— NFL (@NFL) September 14, 2020
The NFL Week One Sunday games brought fresh support for the BLM movement with some players taking the knee during the anthem and some remaining in the locker room. Before the Star-Spangled Banner, they also played Lift Every Voice and Sing. The Kansas City Chiefs remained on the field for their game, while the Houston Texas chose to stay back. The Miami Dolphins took their stand by sharing a video with their players talking about their "owners with influence". They even stayed back in the locker room, while the Washington Football Team knelt on the field and the Philadelphia Eagles left. While many teams chose to kneel, some released a statement saying that they will remain off-court, as not many will appreciate the gesture. Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons knelt, while Jacksonville Jaguars stayed off the court.
While many fans wanted NFL players to speak up, Shaun Gayle stated that it is understood why players were "sceptical". He added that the protests have to valuable, and need "some tangible action to prove to those people being affected that something is going to take place". This June, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted to their errors, agreeing that the league should have listened to their players earlier when they spoke about policy brutality and racism.