Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills is heartened — and more than a little shocked — that safety Eric Reid is back in the National Football League.
The Carolina Panthers signed Reid on Thursday, picking up a Pro Bowl defender a quarter of in Week 4. But he also knelt during the national anthem in protest of racial inequality and police brutality. And, he argues in a grievance filed in May, that the owners colluded to keep him and ex-teammate Colin Kaerpnick out of the league over his activism.
“I was definitely surprised, for sure,” said Stills, who has kneeled during the anthem since the start of the 2016 season.
“I’m just happy for him. Excited to see him get out there on the field and be the impact player we all know he is,” Stills added. “Obviously I feel he should have been signed the first day of free agency. It’s a long time coming. I’m excited for him. I can’t wait to see him ball.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Reid was the first to join Kaepernick in kneeling during the anthem. Most agree with Stills and believe that both are more than talented enough to play football, but Kaerpnick has not been in the NFL since 2016, and Reid went unsigned until a quarter of the way through the season.
Stills addressed reporters in the Dolphins locker room after Thursday’s practice.
When asked if he believes Reid getting a job is a sign that teams are more open to signing players who protested, Stills responded:
“Honestly I don’t really know. I don’t have a clue. I haven’t had that much time to process it. I just came off the field and as I was coming off the field, I found out he was signed. I’m happy for him. I get to see him ball. I think he should’ve been signed a long time ago. “
As for Kaepernick, Stills is hopeful, but not certain, that the Reid signing will clear the way for his friend and ally. Kaepernick still wants to play football, Stills insisted.
“I just spoke to him earlier today before I came in,” he said. “We were on the phone — ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I just came from a workout. I’m ready to go.’ So he wants to play, he’s good enough to play, he deserves to play. So I don’t see why a team hasn’t signed him.”