Ron Rivera Says Eric Reid Kneeling for National Anthem Is 'Not an Issue'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 10, 2018

Carolina Panthers' Eric Reid (25) kneels during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Jason E. Miczek)
Jason E. Miczek/Associated Press

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera reiterated on Wednesday he's not concerned with recently signed safety Eric Reid kneeling during the United States national anthem because it's a First Amendment right, not a football issue. 

Les Carpenter of the Washington Post provided Rivera's response when asked about the situation on a conference call ahead of the Panthers' Week 6 game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

"The biggest reason it's not an issue to me is because I believe in the First Amendment and that's all he did was he exercised his First Amendment," he said.

Rivera made similar comments about the topic Sunday.

The 26-year-old was an early supporter of protesting racial injustice and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem after his former San Francisco 49ers teammate Colin Kaepernick began the practice in August 2016. Following his Panthers debut, Reid said on Sunday he hasn't witnessed the necessary change in society to stand for the anthem.

"This morning, I found out the officer that killed Tamir Rice was rehired," he told reporters. "I feel like that's unacceptable. (Brett) Kavanaugh was voted into the Supreme Court—that's unacceptable. I feel like our country is moving backward, and the only way to change that is to keep talking about it, to keep raising awareness. Keep doing what we're doing."

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Reid finished Carolina's 33-31 victory over the New York Giants with three tackles.

He explained to Jason Reid of The Undefeated his return to the field wasn't a totally positive experience because Kaepernick remains a free agent more than a year after opting out of his contract with the Niners.

"It's bittersweet," Reid said. "I won the game, but Colin is at home with my kids. He should be playing."

All signs point toward Reid continuing to kneel before Sunday's game against the Redskins, and probably for the rest of the 2018 season. Given his focus on football, it's unlikely Rivera will waver from his First Amendment stance on the protest.