Former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, now a free agent, has filed a grievance against the NFL, claiming owners have colluded to keep him out of the league because of his protests during the national anthem, ESPN reported.
Reid was the first player to join with former teammate Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem before games to protest police brutality against minorities.
"Our union is aware that Eric Reid and his legal representatives filed a collusion claim, which will be heard through the arbitration process as spelled out in our collective bargaining agreement," a statement by the NFL Players Association read. "Our union supports Eric and we are considering other legal options to pursue."
What's the story?
Reid became a free agent this offseason after playing with the San Francisco 49ers for five seasons. He has not garnered significant interest from NFL teams, despite being a young and productive player.
Early in free agency, Reid said he believed his protests have caused teams to stay away from him, or to try to convince him to sign for less than his value.
"The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I've protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous," Reid tweeted on March 15. "If you think is (sic), then your mindset is part of the problem too.
"GMs aren't the hold up broski," Reid tweeted that same day. "It's ownership."
In addition to his protests, Reid was a member of a coalition of players that was meeting with NFL owners to discuss social justice issues before he split from the group over disagreements about priorities. Reid and other players wanted Kaepernick to be an active part of the discussions.
Reid recently had a meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals, during which he was asked by the team owner whether he planned to continue kneeling during the national anthem. Reid did not commit one way or another.
Late last year, after not being signed as a free agent and being passed over in favor of numerous other quarterbacks, Kaepernick filed a grievance claiming the NFL and its owners "colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick's leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to peculiar institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States."
As a part of that grievance, several NFL owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had to turn over cellphone records and emails related to Kaepernick. That investigation is still ongoing.