San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid said Vice President Mike Pence's decision to leave his team's game against the Indianapolis Colts early on Sunday was a "PR stunt" and "what systemic oppression looks like."
"First of all, does anybody know the last time he’s been to a football game?" Reid asked after the game. "With that being said, he tweeted out a three-year-old photo of him at a Colts game. With the information that I have, the last time he’s been to a Colts game is three years ago, so this looks like a PR stunt to me."
"He knew our team has had the most players protest," Reid continued. "He knew that we were probably going to do it again. This is what systemic oppression looks like – a man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts. Again, based on the information I have, that's the assumption that I make."
Reid wrote an op-ed for The New York Times last month explaining why he and Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during the national anthem last season, in which he stated: "I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy." Reid resumed his protest during the preseason and has been joined by many of his teammates lately, with more than 20 players on the 49ers kneeling during the national anthem prior to their games against both the Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts.
When talking to reporters on Sunday, Reid felt the need to explain the reasoning behind his protest again because, he says, Pence is "trying to confuse the message that we’re trying to put out there."
Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday that he asked Pence to "leave [the] stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen." Trump also said on Monday that it was "long planned." In response, Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Russell Okung joined Reid in saying that Pence's actions were the "ultimate PR stunt."