INDIANAPOLIS – San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid sized up the actions Sunday of United States Vice President Mike Pence as a move made for public-relations reasons.
After 23 members of the 49ers took a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality in America, Pence left Lucas Oil Stadium and shortly thereafter released a statement.
Reid, who was inactive for the game with a knee injury, was asked to react after the game.
“My honest reaction? First of all, does anyone know the last time he’s been to a football game?” Reid said. “With that being said, he tweeted out a 3-year-old photo (before the game) of him at a Colts game. With the information I have, the last time he’s been to a Colts game was 3 years ago. So this looks like a PR stunt to me.
“He knew our team has had the most players protest. He knew that we were probably going to do to it again. This is what systemic oppression looks like. A man with power comes to a game, he tweets a couple things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts.”
President Donald Trump admitted via Twitter that he asked Pence to leave the game if he saw any players taking a knee. Pence, the former Governor of Indiana, was ostensibly at the game for the halftime ceremony during which Peyton Manning got his number retired.
Reid, who joined Colin Kaepernick in taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem for all of last season, reiterated the meaning of the protest.
“This is not about the military,” Reid said. “This is not about the flag. This is not about the anthem. My mother served in the armed forces. Three of my uncles served in the armed forces. In fact, my mom would’ve gone to the Persian Gulf War had she not been pregnant with me. I have the upmost respect for the military, the anthem and the flag. So I will say that every time you interview me.
“This is about systemic oppression that has been rampant in this country for decades on top of decades. And I will continue to encourage people to educate themselves of how we got to where we are today, because it didn’t happen overnight. It’s not going to happen overnight to fix these issues, so we’re going to keep talking about it. I know I will keep doing what I feel is necessary to use the platform I have to make those changes.”
Reid added, “It’s really disheartening when everything you were raised on – everything I was raised on – was to be the best person I could be, to help people who need help. And the vice president of the United States is trying to confuse the message that we’re trying to put out there.
“I would like to believe that he’s such a busy man that he hasn’t had time to hear our message, but this has been going on for over a year now. So I know that’s not the case.”
The 49ers next week travel to Washington and are situated in a hotel just blocks from the White House.