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.

ByABC News
October 10, 2017, 3:01 PM

— -- San Francisco 49ers' player Eric Reid, one of the first players to join teammate Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem, defended the ongoing silent protests on "The View."

"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."

On Saturday, Dallas Cowboys' owner and general manager Jerry Jones said any player who "disrespects the flag" won't be allowed to play. Reid weighed in on the situation, saying, "That's a poor decision on Jerry's part."

"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."

The 49ers' strong safety said he was first inspired to join Kaepernick's protest in the aftermath of Alton Sterling's death in Reid's hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"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."

In an New York Times op-ed, Reid discussed receiving advice from "Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former NFL player," on the best way to protest.

"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."