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Eric Reid says he won’t protest during the national anthem if an NFL team signs him

Eric Reid, at left with former 49ers teammate Colin Kaepernick in 2016, will no longer kneel during the national anthem. (Mike McCarn/AP)

We’re well into the NFL’s free agency period and veteran safety Eric Reid still hasn’t signed with a team, even though he’s proven to be a reliable contributor over five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. Last week, Reid said his current unemployment stems from the fact that he has continued to protest social issues during the playing of the national anthem, even with former 49ers teammate Colin Kaepernick out of the league in 2017.

Free agent Eric Reid says NFL teams won’t sign him because of his national anthem activism

On Thursday, however, Reid announced that he won’t be taking a knee during the national anthem upon his return to the field, instead promising to raise awareness via other methods.

“We understand you have to change with the times,” Reid told reporters after his younger brother took part in Stanford’s pro day for NFL scouts. “I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country and improve on the issues happening in this country. I don’t think it will be in the form of protesting during the anthem. I say during because it’s crazy that the narrative changed to we were protesting the anthem and that wasn’t the case. I think we’re going to take a different approach to how we’re going to be active.”

Reid’s efforts to affect change already have been impacted by his protests. A golf tournament Reid started in 2015 to benefit the Baton Rouge Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation in his native Louisiana was canceled last year after “five to six” major sponsors of the event pulled their funding in the wake of Reid’s protests, the tournament’s director told the Times-Picayune earlier this month. In response, Reid donated an additional $10,000 to the foundation so that a summer camp for 50 kids could still take place even without money raised from the golf tournament.

Reid, 26, started 69 of the 70 games in which he was on the 49ers’ active roster. He has 10 career interceptions and as a rookie in 2013 played in the Pro Bowl. But he has yet to receive any contract offers, according to the Associated Press, after San Francisco declined to re-sign him when his contract expired at the end of the 2017 season. Nevertheless, he is keeping a positive outlook.

“I said before, I stand by what I’ve done,” he said. “I know why I’ve done it. My faith in God is the reason. I can go to sleep at night confident that I did what I was taught to do. I’m just going to stay positive, keep training, keep staying in shape and we’ll see what happens.”

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