Eric Reid thinks he is entitled. He is entitled to a job of his choosing. He is entitled to criticize those who would employ him in that job. He is entitled to criticize the industry that makes his job possible. He is entitled to criticize the customers that pay money to that industry. He is entitled to criticize the advertisers that pay money to reach those customers. He is entitled to say whatever he wants, about whatever he wants, and to demand everyone else shut up about it.
Just who is Eric Reid? No one really. Just one of thousands of workers in an industry that has hundreds of thousands of applicants for the few open positions available. An industry for which the outward facing workers have a average career of two and a half years. Eric Reid has doubled that tenure for himself and is now available for hire. Employers are hiring available candidates. Except no one is calling him.
Eric Reid is the top free agent cornerback available for employment in the National Football League. He is also an anthem-disrespecter who likes to kneel during the anthem to show solidarity for other unemployed top free agents like Colin Kaepernick. Reid and Kaepernick are protesting systemic police brutality and continuing discrimination against African-Americans in specific and minorities in general. That is certainly their right and a cause for which most with empathize, albeit not in the manner for which it is being protested. But which does Reid want to be? Is it professional football cornerback or anthem-disrepecter? Reid says he gets to be both. But no one is calling.
Still, it is early in the 2018 free agency period. NFL teams want to win and they want to make money. Both are tied together. Anthem protests mean less money. But losing means even less money. Reid might be the missing piece for a secondary on a playoff-bubble team that tips the scales from embarrassing off-season to Super Bowl contender. So will the extra win manufactured by a Reid interception during a 16 game season tilt the scales in favor of his hiring? Maybe. Teams can also try to develop one of several hundred drafted and free agent alternatives at cornerback and safety instead. As the New England Patriots have demonstrated over and over, there is always another Malcolm Butler out there to be discovered.
In the meantime Reid tweets his displeasure at not getting any phone calls. The owners are at fault for not wanting an anthem-disrespecter, he tweets. No comments about how he is at the top of his craft. No tweets about how his past performance and current conditioning should make it impossible for teams to overloook him. No tweets about how lucky he has been to be one of the few chosen to practice his craft at the highest level and how he would consider it an honor to continue for the team that shares his values and work ethic.
Reid will get a call eventually to join training camp at some team in exchange for an incentive laden and a cosmetically impressive contract with no or minimal guarantees. This will be crow difficult to eat and swallow, especially for Reid, who thinks he is entitled. He isn’t.