Eric Reid takes knee during national anthem, becomes first Panthers player ever to do so

Eric Reid signed with the Panthers on Sept. 27 and on Sunday he took a knee during the national anthem to protest social injustice.

He becomes the first Panthers player to take a knee during the anthem. The team was owned by Jerry Richardson from 1995-2017; David Tepper bought the team in 2018, and signed off on adding Reid to the roster.

Reid, a 2013 first-round pick of the 49ers, knelt alongside Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 season to protest social injustice and police brutality, and did the same in 2017. He went unsigned this offseason and was passed over by several teams -- including the Titans and Falcons -- in need of help at safety before the Panthers signed him. In May, Reid filed a collusion grievance against the NFL, and a week later the NFL Players Association filed a non-injury grievance on his behalf. 

Despite signing in Carolina, Reid did not agree to settle his collusion grievance. 

Last week, in his first press conference with his new team, Reid wore an #IMWITHKAP t-shirt. Reid said he continues to work with Kaepernick, and feels as strong as ever on the reasons he began kneeling during the anthem.

"I'll put it this way," Reid said at the time. "Next year will be 2019. It will mark 400 years since the first slave touched the soil in this country. That's 400 years of systemic depression, that slavery, Jim Crow, new Jim Crow, mass incarceration, you name it ... the Great Depression, they came out with a New Deal, black people didn't have access to those government stimulus packages. ... We didn't have access to those programs, the GI Bill, Social Security, home loans, none of that. So this has been happening since my people have gotten here. So I just felt the need to say something about it."

Panthers coach Ron Rivera, who grew up in a military family, said he and Reid spoke about how each of them felt about anthem protests; Rivera had made it clear that he wants his players to stand during the anthem though he has never mandated it.

"We feel good about who he is a young man and who we are as an organization," Rivera told reporters last week. "Probably the biggest question he asked me really was, 'What would you say your base fronts of coverage are?' He just seemed ready to roll."

Meanwhile, Reid remains true to his word: He's not going to stick to sports.

"Nothing will change unless you talk about it, so we'll continue to talk about it," Reid explained to reporters. "We'll continue to hold America to the standard it says on paper that we're all created equal because it's not that way right now. But we're going to keep pushing towards that."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson joined CBS Sports in June 2011. He covers the NFL and NFL Draft for CBSSports.com and CBS Sports HQ, and is a regular on the Pick Six Podcast. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from... Full Bio

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