The Carolina Panthers signed safety Eric Reid on September 27. They said it was purely a football decision. Many will disagree. If you missed the earlier memos, here is the backstory.
The part you already know is that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem in the 2016 season. Many people were outraged. Those that were outraged had lumped the national anthem to the now-routine flyovers by military aircraft at the end of the anthem at sporting events. Some people reasoned that since the military and the national anthem at sporting events had become so ubiquitous that they were one and the same. In that view, kneeling for the anthem was not only a protest to the flag, by definition it was also a protest to the military. This mis-application spread like wildfire, and Kaepernick quickly became the face of a protest of injustice that turned into a political debate about patriotism. Kaepernick lost his QB job due to poor play and the poor performance of the team. He made matters worse for himself by wearing a pro-Fidel Castro t-shirt to a press conference, and wore socks to practice that depicted police officers as pigs. He has not been signed by a team since.
Eric Reid was his teammate, and quickly joined in the protest. Reid made the Pro Bowl in his first season with the 49ers. While Kaepernick’s play rapidly declined, Reid remained a stalwart at safety. His contract expired at the end of the 2017 season. Despite being one of the 5 best defensive backs on the market, no team made a move to sign him. Most reasoned that he was being black-balled for joining Kaepernickin the anthem protest. Reid eventually sought legal action against the NFL owners, charging them with collusion. The players union backed him up. The 2018 season started with Reid still sitting at home.
The Panthers soon developed a problem in their defensive backfield. One starter, Mike Adams, is serviceable but is about 137 years old by NFL player standards. The other safety was Da’Norris Searcy, a free agent that last played for the Tennessee Titans. Searcy suffered a concussion in training camp and another one early in the season. He has been put on injured reserve and will not return this season. This left the Panthers desperately short-handed, and they moved to sign Reid, who does not have to abandon his legal fight as part of the signing. Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith, who played with Reid and Kaepernick in San Francisco, called Reid “one of the best men that I know.” The Panthers have their scheduled off-week this week, and will next play at home against the New York Giants on October 7. Reid will almost certainly be in the starting lineup.
As a Panthers fan, I’m thrilled to death with the signing. The last two games, against Atlanta and Cincinnati, showed that a team with a top QB and multiple receiving options can go through the Panthers secondary like a hot knife through cold butter. Just by taking a pen and signing his name, Reid immediately becomes the second-best defensive back on the team, behind only James Bradberry. He will provide coverage that will make it easier for our super-stud linebackers and defensive linemen to stop the run and sack the quarterback. We should be favored in at lest 8 or 9 of our remaining 13 games, assuming no one else is injured.
But what about the protest? Well, I’m not a big fan of the protest. I don’t think it has anything to do with the military, but I do think it’s disrespectful. I think President Trump is a complete fool for the things he has said about the protests. Ultimately, as a Libertarian, I believe Reid is free to protest if he chooses to. I will not boycott the team if he continues the protest.
At the same time, I wonder if the protest is needed. Kaepernick started the protest to help make people aware that minorities were unfairly targeted by police, and suffered a disproportionate amount of violence at their hands. The protest, along with several high-profile police shootings (including one here in Charlotte), have taken care of the awareness issue pretty well. At some point, there comes a time when you stop protesting and force action. The men of Greensboro did not make signs and protest segregation for years on end. They went to the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s store, sat down where they weren’t allowed to sit, and demanded action be taken. It took years, and some terrible abuse, but eventually the Jim Crow laws were dismantled, and it is no longer legal to deny goods & services to people just because they are a different color than you are. Now, take action. Have Q&A sessions with law enforcement. Talk about specific situations where it is obvious that what color you are resulted in poor or unlawful treatment. Take part in community service project that serve people of different backgrounds, so they can see that someone with dark skin is just like them, not to be feared or suspected. No matter what your background, you are going to encounter stupid idiots that think one person’s genetic makeup is superior to other genetic makeups. Don’t focus on them. Focus on building relationships with the rest of society. The more people get to know you, the more they will trust you. Eventually, we may just have that great society where people are judged not by the color of their skin by the content of their character.