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Panthers coach on Eric Reid's protest: 'I believe in the First Amendment'

Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid (25) kneels during the national anthem prior to playing the New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 in Charlotte, N.C.

DAVID T. FOSTER III/CHARLOTTE OBSERVER/TNS

By LES CARPENTER | The Washington Post | Published: October 10, 2018

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera appeared to defend safety Eric Reid's decision to continue protesting by kneeling during the national anthem, by saying, "I believe in the First Amendment and that's all he did. He exercised his First Amendment."

Rivera made his remarks on a Wednesday afternoon conference call with reporters in advance of Sunday's Panthers-Redskins game at FedEx Field.

"As far as I'm concerned he's an American citizen that's entitled to exercise his rights," Rivera said.

Reid, who played the first five years of his career with the San Francisco 49ers, went unsigned in free agency this past winter despite having started 69 of 70 games with the team. He has alleged that teams refused to sign him because he has refused to abandon the protest his former Niners teammate Colin Kaepernick started in 2016 to bring awareness to police brutality and racial inequality in the U.S. Last spring, he filed a collusion grievance against the NFL.

"He's been great," Rivera said about Reid, who had three tackles in Carolina's 33-31 win over the Giants last Sunday. "He's fit in exactly the way we've hoped for. Again, at the end of the day, when we made this decision we made it about football and football only."

When asked if he thought Reid has been a good addition to the Panthers's locker room, Rivera said: "Very much so, he's assimilated very nicely."

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