Eric Reid spoke to the media following the 49ers loss to the Colts. Reid said that he saw Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to come to the game and leave immediately following the national anthem a “P.R. stunt.”
“With the information I have, the last time he’s been to a Colts game was three years ago,” Reid said. “So this looks like a PR stunt to me.”
It stands to reason that Pence was strategic about choosing this particular game to attend.
“He knew our team has had the most players protest. He knew that we were probably going to do it again,” Reid said.
The 49ers had at least 23 players kneel during the anthem. Pence tweeted that he would not stay at an event “that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.” President Donald Trump shared via Twitter that he had asked Pence to leave if players kneeled during the anthem. Pence shared a prepared statement 14 minutes after his first tweet about leaving the game.
Of course, player protests during the anthem aren’t about the flag, the national anthem, law enforcement as a whole, or the U.S. military. Players are taking a stand against racial inequality and police brutality that disproportionately affects the black community.
“And so this is what systemic oppression looks like,” Reid said. “A man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple of things out and leaves the game, with an attempt to thwart our efforts.”
Reid was the first player to join Colin Kaepernick’s protest last season, and he’s continuing the fight.