It appears the Bengals won’t face any repercussions following Eric Reid’s grievance against the team.
According to NFL.com, the grievance filed by the NFL Players Association on behalf of Reid after his free-agent visit to the Bengals this spring has been denied by an arbitrator,
Reid and the NFLPA had filed a collusion grievance against the Bengals in the spring that remained opened to this point during the 2018 season, but it’s now been decided. The Bengals are off the hook.
To recap, the Bengals hosted Reid for a visit in in April, where owner Mike Brown allegedly discussed with Reid his intentions surrounding the national anthem. Brown allegedly, per Pro Football Talk, said he planned to prohibit kneeling during the anthem.
Reid left the visit without a contract offer, and no NFL team would sign him until the regular season began. The NFLPA filed a grievance on his behalf back in May based on the following:
The NFLPA has filed a non-injury grievance and a system arbitrator case on behalf of free agent safety Eric Reid. Prior to the start of the current NFL off-season, our Union directed the agents of free agent players who had participated in peaceful on-field demonstrations to collect, memorialize and report any relevant information about potential violations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by teams. These cases were filed based upon the following:
- There is no League rule that prohibits players from demonstrating during the national anthem.
- The NFL has made it clear both publicly and to the NFLPA that they would respect the rights of players to demonstrate.
- The Collective Bargaining Agreement definitively states that League (NFL) rules supersede anyconflicting club rules.
- According to our information, a club appears to have based its decision not to sign a playerbased on the player’s statement that he would challenge the implementation of a club’s policy prohibiting demonstration, which is contrary to the League policy.
- At least one club owner has asked preemployment interview questions about a player’s intent to demonstrate. We believe these questions are improper, given League policy.
This is the same type of case that Reid’s former 49ers teammate, Colin Kaepernick, filed against the NFL in November of 2017. That has yet to be ruled on, partly because Kapernick has yet to be signed by an NFL team.
Reid, however, has since signed with the Panthers, so his case for a grievance probably took a hit with that. The former 49ers safety was an advocate in Kaepernick’s original national anthem protest back in 2016, and he continued to protest throughout the 2017 season when Kaepernick was no longer on the team.
The case against the Bengals is that Brown was never going to offer Reid a contract if Reid told him he would not stop protesting while on the Bengals, despite having legitimate interest in Reid beforehand. The NFL arbitrator deemed it was within the Bengals’ rights to ask Reid such questions.
Reid has been kneeling during the national anthem since signing with the Panthers and even got into an altercation with Eagles safety Malcom Jenkins on Sunday before their game. It was related to his protests and support of Kaepernick.
Per NFL.com, Reid’s attorney Mark Geragos had no comment on the decision. The NFL and NFLPA also did not have any immediate reaction either.
UPDATE: The NFLPA has released the following statement regarding the NFL arbitrator’s decision on Reid.