Colin Kaepernick has been dominating the public discourse the past couple of weeks, thanks in part to Nike’s monumental decision to make him one of the faces of their new ad campaign despite fielding backlash from some. Nike’s choice to endorse and collaborate with the athlete has certainly since paid off, with Nike’s sales steadily increasing since the ad debuted.
Kaepernick is currently in the middle of pursuing legal action against the league, as well as is rumored to be close to striking a new deal to get back on the field. He has been a free agent since opting out of his contract after the 2016 season, a time where his decision to kneel during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice across the United States sparked an impassioned national conversation that still continues to this day.
Among his allies on (and off) the field is Eric Reid, a Pro Bowl safety who chose to kneel in solidarity with Kaepernick’s call to action at a time where others were hesitant to take a stand. Much like Kaepernick’s experience following sparking the national protest movement and garnering subsequent outrage from people like Donald Trump, Reid found himself out of work after his contract expired at the end of last season.
In San Francisco, Reid was the first player to stand with Kaep (by kneeling during the anthem) and also experienced a similar feeling of being blackballed by the league in the aftermath of his silent protest decisions, going on to file a grievance against the NFL and its teams, alleging that they colluded to punish him due to his choice to advocate for social justice.
However, as announced Thursday (Sept. 27), the 26-year-old has officially signed a one-year contract with the Carolina Panthers, in turn ending his hiatus from the league.
Kaepernick took to social media to congratulate Reid on being able to start this next chapter of his athletic career, proudly referring to him as a “social justice warrior.”
“Congrats 2 my brother @e_reid35, all pro safety who should have been signed the 1st day of free agency, who has signed a football contract,” Kaep wrote on Twitter. “He was the 1ST person 2 kneel alongside me. Eric is a social justice warrior, continues to support his family. and communities in need.”
The team’s general manager, Marty Hurney, shared in a statement that, “Eric was at the top of our list. He is a physical safety with good ball skills and play-making ability.”
At the time of this report, Kaepernick remains an unrestricted free agent.