The NFL players’ union has filed a non-injury grievance on behalf of free agent safety Eric Reid.
The NFLPA cites one team appearing “to have based its decision not to sign a player based on the player’s statement that he would challenge the implementation of a club’s policy prohibiting demonstration” during the national anthem.
League policy does not prohibit demonstrating during the anthem. Referring to the labor agreement with the league, the union notes that NFL rules supersede any conflicting club rules.
The union also says “at least one club owner has asked pre-employment interview questions about a player’s intent to demonstrate. We believe these questions are improper, given league policy.”
That team reportedly is the Cincinnati Bengals.
Considered one of the top safeties in the league, Reid played out his contract with San Francisco last season. He has been a strong supporter of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who in 2016 became the first player to kneel during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
Kaepernick wasn’t signed for the 2017 season following his release in San Francisco. Reid continued the quarterback’s protests.
Reid last week filed a collusion claim similar to one filed by Kaepernick last year. The union announced today that it filed its grievance and was seeking an arbitrator to hear the case.
Kaepernick deposed several league owners and executives, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, in his grievance. Reid is using the same attorneys as Kaepernick.
When NFL owners met in March, they didn’t hold lengthy discussions on anthem protocol. But they are expected to do so at their spring meetings in Atlanta on May 21-22.
In March, Goodell was asked about Reid, one of the better players at his position in the NFL, not having a job.
“I’ve said this repeatedly to you: The 32 teams make individual decisions on the players who are going to best help their franchises,” Goodell said. “Those are decisions they have to make. They do that every day in the best interest of winning. Teams make those decisions. I’m not directly involved with that.”
Last month, Kaepernick praised Reid for continuing to make a stand for social justice when the quarterback was presented an Amnesty International award in Amsterdam.
“Eric introducing me for this prestigious award brings me great joy,” Kaepernick said. “But I am also pained by the fact that his taking a knee, and demonstrating courage to protect the rights of black and brown people in America, has also led to his ostracization from the NFL when he is widely recognized as one of the best competitors in the game and in the prime of his career.”