Eric Reid’s new Carolina Panthers teammates aren’t worried about whether the safety will demonstrate or protest during the national anthem on Sunday before the Panthers face the New York Giants.
“Hey, no one cares,” wide receiver Torrey Smith told reporters Wednesday. “It’s not like he’s out there and coach calls Cover-3 or man-to-man, he’s going to take a knee and let his guy run by. If that was the issue, it would be a problem.
“Eric knows what’s best for Eric and what Eric needs to do. We all understand what he’s fighting for, so if that’s something he decides to do, that’s what he decides to do. But that has absolutely nothing to do with this locker room, the way we approach the game, the way we prepare and what we’re trying to do.”
Reid was the first player to kneel alongside Colin Kaepernick during the anthem in protest of social injustice. He remained unsigned as a free agent until the Panthers added him last week to replace injured safety Da’Norris Searcy. By all indications, Reid’s new teammates are simply excited to have another Pro Bowl player on the roster.
“We’ve accepted him with open arms,” said quarterback Cam Newton, who added the team “got a steal” in Reid. “I was thinking to myself, I hope he was and is as excited as everyone is at having him.
.”..I’m going to stand by him knowing none of that will be a distraction for us winning football games.”
Reid, 26, has declined to say whether he will protest during the anthem moving forward, adding he is still considering various forms of protest. But as his new teammates see it, there isn’t much difference one way or another in a welcoming locker room.
“Guys can just kind of be themselves,” Smith said. “We have some of the most interesting conversations on politics and religion that I’ve ever been a part of. This locker room is all about free spirits as long as you’re doing your job.”
—Field Level Media