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Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Reid: President Trump’s comments have given NFL players an opportunity

Sep 27, 2017 at 2:16 PM

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On Monday, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times which included his thoughts on the controversial comments made by President Trump on Friday night. On Wednesday, the media had their first opportunity to talk to Reid, who spoke for over 20 minutes, regarding the events over the weekend.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners," said President Trump on Friday night, "when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired!'"

What started as only a handful of protests around the NFL escalated to hundreds of players participating in response to President Trump's comments, in which he said that team owners should "fire" any player who disrespects the American flag by not standing for the national anthem. Included during Sunday's massive protests at NFL stadiums were many of those team owners.

Reid said that he was confused by President Trump's comments when he first heard them.

"I didn't really understand why he said what he said," Reid told reporters. "It's obviously frustrating but he gave us an opportunity to make something positive come out of it. Again, I don't know why he said that. I don't know why any President would use that kind of language on any subject. We've just got to be positive about it."

Reid explained that the comments by President Trump have helped to gain even more attention by the protesters and make their reasoning and intentions known.

"It's helped people get past the fact that we're protesting during the anthem," Reid said. "It's given us that ear to why we're doing it."

Reid went on to say that former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains the leader of the player protests. Reid, who speaks regularly with Kaepernick, said that the quarterback wishes this many people were involved last year and, had there been, the narrative surrounding the protests would not have gone off course.

"We have this opportunity now and it's important that we discuss the issues," Reid said.

Reid told reporters the team is still discussing what they want to do on Sunday.

"We're not going to force anybody to do anything they don't want to do," Reid said. "But what we will do is be together as a team."

Reid revealed that he has spoken to 49ers CEO Jed York one-on-one twice within the past two weeks regarding the issues that originally prompted the protests.

"He's been nothing but supportive," Reid said.

York told Reid that he stands ready to assist with anything that can help address the issues that prompted the protests. York was also very supportive of Kaepernick last season and even donated $1 million to Bay Area charities that work to improve social inequities.

Reid concluded the press conference by stating that his stance is not about protesting against President Trump, but doing what is right regarding the issues behind those protests.

"Yes, his comments on two occasions have directly related to the protests but my protest is not about the President," Reid said.

On Friday night, Trump said that he believes that some NFL owner will "fire" a player one day over not standing for the national anthem.

"He's going to say, 'That guy disrespects our flag; he's fired,'" said Trump. "And that owner, they don't know it. They're friends of mine, many of them. They'll be the most popular person, for a week. They'll be the most popular person in this country."

President Trump received a massive response from the NFL on Saturday morning. The executive director of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, issued the following response to the comments and asked for the league to issue an official response as well.

Shortly after, the NFL issued the following statement from commissioner Roger Goodell.

"The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."

York, along with most NFL team owners, issued their own statements chastizing President Trump for his comments and showing support for their players. York said the following via his statement.

"The callous and offensive comments made by the President are contradictory to what this great country stands for. Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice. We will continue to support them in their peaceful pursuit of positive change in our country and around the world. The San Francisco 49ers will continue to work toward bringing communities, and those who serve them, closer together."

Player protests gained notoriety last season when Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem during the NFL preseason. He was then joined by Reid, other 49ers teammates, and then other players around the NFL. It was viewed as a controversial stance that many believe cost the quarterback a job in the league.

"People don't realize what's really going on in this country," Kaepernick told the media last year as he initially explained his reasoning for the protest. "There are a lot of things that are going on that are unjust. People aren't being held accountable for. And that's something that needs to change. That's something that this country stands for freedom, liberty, and justice for all. And it's not happening for all right now."

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