By Perry Green, AFRO Sports Editor, [email protected]
Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown has been facing heavy criticism from the public ever since news leaked of him questioning free agent safety Eric Reid about kneeling in protest during the National Anthem.
Reid, the very first player to join Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem, in protest of racism and police brutality two seasons ago, visited the Bengals facility Monday for his first official tryout since becoming a free agent this offseason.
According to Pro Football Talk, the 26-year-old former Pro Bowler made a good impression on the coaching staff, but left without a contract offer after the Bengals owner personally asked Reid if he plans on kneeling if signed.
Though Reid told the media earlier this year that he won’t kneel anymore, he was reportedly “caught off guard” by the question from Brown and was unwilling to commit to not kneeling in the future.
The Bengals have a long history of signing players with troubling backgrounds, so folks have been questioning why Brown would be more concerned with peaceful protestors like Reid than he is with players currently on the roster who have been arrested for domestic violence and assault.
But not everyone is mad at the 82-year-old franchise owner for his line of questioning.
Former Baltimore Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis said, during an appearance on Fox Sports 1’s Speak For Yourself, that Brown has to ask that question and Reid should be willing to answer any questions if he wants to return to a job in the NFL.
“If an owner doesn’t ask you about protesting, then they’re not interested,” Lewis said during panel discussion. ”But if they do ask you that, then they want to find out if you’re serious about coming in and not bringing any distractions to my football team.”
“What I think he should do is be very open to any questions that comes right now, because he’s looking to try to get a job back,” Lewis continued. ”But one thing he has to be careful with is taking that subject and saying, ‘ah man, they asked me about the protest.’ No, no. If they ask you about it, openly answer it. Say “Absolutely, I did it then but I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to focus on football.”
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis reportedly had asked Reid towards the end of the tryout if there was anything he wanted to clear up about what he said in relation to protesting during his meeting with Brown. Reid declined and left the facility still jobless, according to Pro Football Talk. Lewis thinks Reid would’ve gotten signed had he been clearer about his protest intentions.
“Everybody has to turn in a resume,” Lewis said. “Whatever your resume has on it that an owner will not accept, that’s what they’re going to review. And that’s all we’re talking about here so listen: to get back into the league, Eric, answer every question, be open about every question and don’t be shocked by any question.”