(Reuters) – Pro Bowl safety Eric Reid, who was among the first players to join quarterback Colin Kaepernick in taking a knee to protest police brutality, on Monday said NFL efforts to address social justice issues were “half-hearted at best.”
The opening weekend of the NFL season saw players stage pre-game protests from coast-to-coast taking a knee during the playing of the U.S. national anthem once again putting a spotlight on racism and inequality.
Reid chastised the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell in a Monday tweet after the league used a video of Kaepernick’s kneeling protest for “disingenuous” public relation purposes.
“What the @NFL is doing is half-hearted at best,” tweeted Reid, who signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2018 after being released by the 49ers. “@nflcommish has gotten comfortable saying he ‘was wrong’ as if his mere acknowledgement reconciles his admitted wrongdoing.”
“He hasn’t even called Colin to apologize, let alone reconcile, proving this is only PR for the current business climate.”
Kaepernick, the Black San Francisco 49ers quarterback who four years ago sparked controversy and helped reinvigorate the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling during the anthem, had faced heavy backlash early on and has gone unsigned since the 2016 season. He filed a collusion grievance against NFL owners in 2017.
Kaepernick also defended Reid on Sunday with a tweet noting that Reid, after two standout seasons with the Carolina Panthers remained without a team after being released earlier this year.
Reid continued, “Roger Goodell uses video of Colin courageously kneeling to legitimize their disingenuous PR while simultaneously perpetuating systemic oppression that the video he’s using fights against, by continuing to rob Colin of his career. It’s diabolical.”
The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
After wrestling with how to handle on field protests, the NFL says it now fully supports the players’ fight for social justice and equality.
The league has rolled out a number of initiatives, including allowing players to wear decals on their helmets with names of people killed by the police.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Aurora Ellis)