San Francisco 49ers' football player Eric Reid told Slate in an interview last Thursday that negotiations with the National Football League over its potential contributions to social justice causes haven't gone exactly as he would like. Reid revealed that the NFL will give team owners the option to transfer money allocated to other charitable organizations into a just-announced $89 million program that will fund initiatives that deal with criminal justice reform, law enforcement/community relations, and education.
The deal, Reid says, is one of the reasons that he's chosen to walk away from the Players Coalition, the group responsible for coming to this tentative agreement with the league. The NFL hopes the deal will appease players who have been protesting during the playing of the national anthem just before games. Philadelphia Eagles' safety Malcolm Jones, one of the leaders of the Players Coalition, announced last week that he would stop raising his fist during "The Star Spangled Banner."
Reid said Jenkins was the only protesting player in support of moving funds around from charitable organizations, including those that support breast cancer awareness and the U.S. military, in order to fund these social justice initiatives. The 49er claims the NFL is trying to make the deal as palatable to team owners as possible.
“In the discussion that we had, Malcolm [Jones] conveyed to us, based on discussions that he had with the NFL, that the money would come from funds that are already allocated to breast cancer awareness and Salute to Service,” Reid said. “So it would really be no skin off the owners’ backs. They would just move the money from those programs to this one.”
When the coalition moved forward with the deal, Reid, Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas, and Los Angeles Chargers offensive lineman Russell Okung announced their departures from the group.
“[NFL Commissioner] Roger Goodell is trying to make this as easy for the owners to agree to as possible so that—again, their goal is to end the protests. He’s trying to make it as easy possible to do that for the owners. He’s going to present them with a proposal saying, 'Look you really don’t have to do anything. We’re just going to shift this money from this area and just move it here,'” said Reid.
ESPN reported on Thursday that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was "furious" to learn that not all of the protesting players had agreed to the proposed deal.
Colin Kaepernick, the former backup quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers who is largely credited with beginning the NFL anthem protests, filed a motion against the NFL alleging its teams' either explicit or implicit collusion in keeping him out of work. Reid has written that he is fully aware that his activisim might cost him his job. He will be a free agent after this season. Even so, Reid says that he will continue his protests.