Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid has been vocal about his stance on kneeling since joining the team a few weeks ago. In fact, it would spill over heavily in their game against the Philadelphia Eagles. But now, even head coach Ron Rivera is discussing the matter. The head coach says that he fully supports Reid’s kneeling during the National Anthem despite it going against his own views and beliefs on the matter. Rivera is fully aware that he knows it’s Reid’s First Amendment right to do so.
For what it’s worth, Reid doesn’t much care what his coach thinks about it. And he means that in the nicest way possible.
“Very respectfully, he doesn’t have a choice,” Reid told ESPN’s David Newton. “He’s entitled to his opinion, but I know what my rights are. His family was a military family much like many of my people were in the military. My cousin just got back from Afghanistan. My mom was in the armed services. … uncle was enlisted. The list goes on. … But when they get home they’re still black in America. They’re going to fight the same wars when they get home and still face the same things I’m talking about. So I get encouragement from my family that served in the armed forces because they agree with what I’m saying.”
This Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina will honor the military as part of the NFL’s “Salute to Service Week.” Reid says he will still kneel during the Anthem this week, and he remains the only Panther to do so.
The only other instance of when a player made their political statement was when Julius Peppers stayed in the locker room last season as a form of protest on the matters. However, since then Peppers has taken to the field during the National Anthem with his teammates.
“Like I’ve always said about this stuff, the only time it’s a distraction is when you guys bring it up,” Rivera added. “As I’ve always said, I try to keep these things separate. To me it’s about playing football, The players know how I feel about everything. It’s all about what’s going out on the field.”
And on the field, the Panthers are doing just fine. At 5-2, they’re just a game behind the Saints in the race for first place in the NFC South. Hosting Tampa Bay on Sunday should make it three wins in a row for the Panthers. But that’s why they play the game, right?