San Francisco 49ers players won’t be forced to stand during the national anthem, safety Eric Reid revealed on Wednesday.
Reid, the first player to join Colin Kaepernick in protest last season, said he had a conversation recently with 49ers CEO Jed York, who indicated he will continue to support his players if they decide to kneel during the national anthem to protest social injustice.
Reid said: “He’s expressed very clearly that he wants to support us, that he’s not going to force us to do anything.”
More than 20 49ers players took a knee during the anthem during the last two games, while team-mates stood behind them with hands on their shoulders.
That was in reaction to President Trump’s condemnation at a rally last month of any player that didn’t stand. Trump called for owners to release players who did not stand.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier this week that “everyone should stand” for the anthem in a memo sent to all team owners.
Goodell wrote to all 32 NFL teams following weeks of controversy surrounding the number of players who have protested against perceived racial injustice by taking a knee during the anthems.
Eric Reid described Mike Pence's decision to walk out of an NFL game as a publicity stunt
Trump praised Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Monday after he said his players would not play should they ‘disrespect’ the flag during the anthem.
On Sunday, US vice president Mike Pence walked out of the Indianapolis Colts’ game against the San Francisco 49ers after a number of 49ers players took a knee during the anthem.
Goodell has previously defended the rights of players to express their feelings, but said in his memo that the controversy was overshadowing the issues they were seeking to raise.