SAN DIEGO -– Eric Reid agreed with what his teammate Colin Kaepernick was saying. He just did not agree with how he was protesting.
“He is taking advantage of the platform that he’s given to bring awareness to a worthy cause,” Reid said after the 49ers’ exhibition game Thursday against the San Diego Chargers. “What’s more American than that?”
So a few hours before Thursday’s exhibition game, they agreed on a silent protest that might not be viewed as divisive as retreating to the bench and sitting during the playing of the national anthem. Reid took a knee alongside Kaepernick on the 49ers' sideline, surrounded by teammates and staff members.
“It’s something that’s been on my mind all week and after talking to Colin many times, I talked to him today before the game,” Reid said. “People thought it was disrespectful for him to sit down. He was able to decide, ‘What if we took a knee instead of sitting?’
“And that came off as more respectful to the country, to the anthem, to the military. And I agree with that. It shows that he hears that people were hurt by him sitting, but he still believes in the cause that he wants to bring awareness to. So he changed his physical position from sitting down to take a knee to still show respect ”
Kaepernick and Reid were flanked by Nate Boyer, a Bay Area native and former Green Beret. Boyer wrote an open letter this week in support of Kaepernick’s stance to get people talking about the issues. Kaepernick, Reid and Boyer met for approximately 90 minutes at the team hotel Thursday afternoon.
“It was great,” Reid said. “Nate showed text messages his buddies. They were pissed about what he did, but they still understood why he was doing it, which led to the decision to not sit, but take a knee, and show respect to the people that felt hurt by that action. It was very big of him (Kaepernick) to change his physical position, to take a knee to show respect to those people, but still stand up for the message he was trying to portray.”
Reid said the idea is to spark more dialogue about issues that plague the country, such as police brutality and oppression of minorities.
“I don’t personally feel oppressed, but there are things that have happened in this country that have touched very close to home for me -- the situation in Louisiana,” Reid said. “I grew up around that. But this is a responsibility that he feels and a responsibility that I feel as well. It’s bigger than football.”
In July, Alton Sterling was shot outside a Baton Rouge convenience store after an encounter with two police officers. Two weeks later, a former Marine from Missouri shot and killed three law officers in the city. Reid grew up in Louisiana and attended LSU, which is located in Baton Rouge.
“The goal is to keep the dialogue open,” Reid said. “There are issues in this country that a lot of people feel strongly about. And the goal is just to fix those issues, to make progress on those issues.”