ESPN's Stephen A. Smith offered his latest comment in an ongoing debate with Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid over quarterback Colin Kaepernick's continued absence from the NFL and the league's new entertainment and social justice partnership with Jay-Z's Roc Nation.
"I'm not taking that bait. Nobody's going to pit me against Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick," Smith said. "I have profound respect for Eric Reid. ... I think anybody on this planet would want a friend like Eric Reid." Smith also called Reid a "roughrider and a warrior going down with the crew."
Smith also said he believed Reid was "protesting more about Kaepernick than he is about the issues."
Reid has expressed significant concerns about the deal in light of Kaepernick still looking for NFL work after three years away from the game despite interest to return. The ex-San Francisco 49er protested systemic oppression and social injustice during the 2016 campaign.
Smith had a more optimistic take on the deal, saying that the NFL is looking to address issues Kaepernick brought to light with his protest:
Reid responded, calling Smith's comments "asinine," leading to the analyst's latest remarks.
Smith also responded to Reid via Twitter.
"He is more than entitled to call my position ludicrous," Smith said. "[Reid] has earned the right to do that. He’s good with me. I have no idea how he feels about me. Nor do I care. But I respect him and what he’s trying to do for US. Period!"
As for Kaepernick, the former Nevada star is still looking for work, as he made clear in an Aug. 15 video:
Colin Kaepernick @Kaepernick7
You never turned your back on me or the people, even when the nfl tried to silence your voice & the movement. You’ve never flinched or wavered. I love you Brother! Let’s get it! @E_Reid35 And to the people - I see you, I hear you and I love you! Thank you for having my back!!!✊🏾 https://t.co/kBJ1SCBYIq
Reid and the Panthers open their 2019 season against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Sept. 8.