**FILE** Members of the San Francisco 49ers, including safety Eric Reid (35), kneel during the national anthem before a game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, on Oct. 15, 2017. (Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons)
**FILE** Members of the San Francisco 49ers, including safety Eric Reid (35), kneel during the national anthem before a game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, on Oct. 15, 2017. (Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons)

Former San Francisco 49ers player Eric Reid has followed ex-teammate Colin Kaepernick’s lead once again and filed a grievance against the NFL, alleging collusion, and has even retained Kaepernick’s attor

A source familiar with the filing told Slate that President Donald Trump’s divisive comments will be a focus of the grievance. Trump referred to NFL players who protest as sons of bitches and called for them to be fired.

According to a report from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES), the NFL’s players are nearly 70 percent Black. In sharp contrast, quarterbacks are only 19 percent Black. Head coaches are only 21.9 percent Black. There is not a single Black owner of a team.

Team owners appear to want the players to shut up and play ball, while the players want Kaepernick involved in discussions. But Trump’s very public comments and threats against players who protest hold more weight than protesting inequality. Many of the owners have made political donations to Trump.

Reid had a meeting with one team, the Cincinnati Bengals, about a potential invitation to play. But at the meeting, owner Mike Brown wanted to focus the conversation on Reid’s kneeling. Pro Football Talk reported:

“The conversation almost exclusively centered on the topic, with Brown explaining that he intends to prohibit it — and with Brown at one point asking Reid for his response.

“Reid, caught off guard by the line of questioning, wasn’t willing to make a commitment on the spot.”

Notably, Reid remains unsigned despite being ranked “above average” and the No. 30 safety overall by Pro Football Focus.

“Our union is aware that Eric Reid and his legal representatives filed a collusion claim, which will be heard through the arbitration process as spelled out in our collective bargaining agreement,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement on Twitter. “Our union supports Eric and we are considering other legal options to pursue.”

Including Trump’s comments in Reid’s case only further highlights the stark divide between players and owners, which was made even more evident after details of an October meeting were leaked by the New York Times.

The owners were more interested in media appearance and saving face for Trump. In fact, one owner suggested the league obtain a spokesperson — who should be Black.

But they did not want to discuss the racial issues that led to Kaepernick’s protests in the first place — in fact, they did not want to discuss Kaepernick much at all.

Chris Long, defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles, said of Kaepernick,”If he was on a roster right now, all this negativeness and divisiveness could be turned into a positive.” He added, “we all agree in this room as players that he should be on a roster.”

According to the Times, “The owners’ responses were noncommittal.”

But they were evidently committed to boosting ratings. Per the Times:

The owners kept returning to one bottom-line issue: Large numbers of fans and sponsors had become angry about the protests. Boycotts had been threatened and jerseys burned and — most worrisome — TV ratings were declining.

Reid attended this meeting as well and came to Kaepernick’s defense.

“I feel like he was hung out to dry,” said Reid, who had on a Kaepernick t-shirt over his business attire, the Times reported. “Everyone in here is talking about how much they support us.”

“Nobody stepped up and said we support Colin’s right to do this. We all let him become Public Enemy No. 1 in this country, and he still doesn’t have a job.”

Now Reid finds himself in the same position, despite his abilities. Slate reported:

“The blackballing of Reid is arguably — from a pure football perspective — more egregious than that of Kaepernick. According to the NFL’s own website, Reid was the league’s 25th-most-valuable free agent this offseason and the second-most-valuable safety. The vast majority of players above and below him in the NFL.com rankings have already been signed. Meanwhile, analysts have pointed to statistics that show the 26-year-old former Pro Bowler has been one of the most consistent performers at his position in recent years and had an impressive 2017 campaign.”

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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