Eric Reid, the first NFL player to kneel with Colin Kaepernick, and in turn, become a free agent, finally got signed by the Carolina Panthers yesterday.

The first time Eric Reid knelt was in 2016, when he decided to follow in Kaepernick’s footsteps and kneel as a calm protest for police brutality against African Americans. Although he knew his job was on the line, he still took a knee with his then-San Francisco 49er’s teammate, and silently spoke for what he believed in. After the 2016 season, the former first round safety pick was left as a free agent. Out of the league, Reid was left to wrestle with his new circumstances, and he eventually made the most it.

As a free agent, Reid spent most of his days advocating for the civil rights of black citizens, especially in cities where police brutality is a growing disease. He’s attended multiple press conferences, addressing topics of equality and justice. In his latest appearance, just this Wednesday, the activist spent 20 minutes discussing serious topics from problems with the New Deal and the Civil Rights Act to criminal justice reform for the incarcerated. It was obvious that his time spent as a free agent hadn’t been wasted. His expertise on the topics was admirable, and it’s all thanks to his dedication to helping those who can’t speak for themselves. Just like kneelers all around the nation, he’s making a peaceful difference in the lives of victims, and in the hearts of athletes.

In an unexpected turn of events, Eric Reid met with the Carolina Panthers and signed a one-year contract just this Thursday. The general manager, Marty Hurney, stated that, “Eric has been a starting safety in the NFL and has played at a high level throughout his career.” The signing session was captured on the Panther’s Twitter, where Reid is shown holding up the famous fist.

The news spread like wildfire in the sports community. Kaepernick immediately hopped onto Twitter to congratulate his long time friend on being a “social justice warrior.”

As for the National Football League, this could possibly be its first step to recognizing the real problems that face America, and in turn, the players. Acknowledging these players as the peaceful, non-violent heroes that they are is something that the NFL and its fans could benefit from. Moreover, Eric Reid’s signing could rekindle the fire behind his meaningful cause; it could pave the way for more athletes to jump back onto the movement.

Photo: Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY Sports

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