49ers' Eric Reid defends taking a knee during national anthem: 'We want to make our country better'

"We want to make our country better," Reid said.

"We love this country so much that we reserve the right to criticize her perpetually," Reid said, paraphrasing from writer James Baldwin. "We just want to do that -- we want to make our country better."

"We have a constitutional right to protest. And that's all we're doing -- exercising it," Reid said. "It's a peaceful protest.... We're simply trying to raise awareness around the issues that our country face[s]."

Reid says those issues "include police brutality, systemic oppression of black and brown people," making clear that "it's not about the anthem the flag or the military."

"At that point, I knew I needed to do something," Reid said. "I need[ed] to use my platform to speak out for people who didn't have a voice."

"When we first started this process we decided to kneel as a sign of respect," Reid said. "It's very confusing for me that it's been misconstrued as disrespectful."