Eric Reid AP thegrio.com
Carolina Panthers strong safety Eric Reid, center, takes a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid was the second NFL player to drop to one knee during the performance of the National Anthem in the 2016 season. He did so in solidarity with his then-San Francisco 49ers teammate Colin Kaepernick when he first took up the practice.

Reid, along with Kaepernick, also filed a collusion grievance against the NFL insisting that, during his free agency, he was not signed to a team as a result of these protests. Reid eventually signed with the Panthers while his partner-in-wokeness Kaepernick – despite being statistically better than many current NFL quarterbacks – remains teamless.

Reid is still dropping to a knee during the anthem when most other players seem to have moved right on.

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“Random” Drug Testing

Now, Reid is making news for – surprise, surprise — being drug tested five times across eight games. The dude just started with the Panthers, which seems like the equivalent of getting a performance review every Friday for the first 90 days of your soul-sucking cubicle job. He insists that he’s clean as a Chevy Impala in August, but he’s also hip to what’s really going on.

“This is supposed to be a random system,” Reid said Sunday. “It doesn’t feel very random.”


Because Helen Keller can see it’s not random.

Possible But Not Probable

The NFL selects 10 players per team, per week to submit to drug testing. The selection process, done via a computer program, is ostensibly completely random. But the good people at USA Today took the time to math the hell out of this shit, breaking down just how unlikely it is that Reid would catch that many random tests.

Apparently, there’s an 0.2 percent chance that he’d get selected for testing five times in eight weeks – not impossible, but some lightning-in-a-bottle shit for a guy who has publicly rocked the boat. Twitter seems to agree that there’s nothing random about it.

 

 

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In Good Company

Where have we seen this before…? The inimitable Serena Williams – whom I’m hoping would consider being my second wife after that recent GQ cover – also went through a multiple-testing situation in which it appears she had a target on her back. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency tested her five times in 2018 alone – about as much as many of her colleagues and more than the male players at her level. Tests never came back positive, because Williams is just that good at kicking ass on the tennis court.

The other thing Reid and Williams have in common: they center their blackness within their respective sports, and we love them for it. Williams bought talent and soul to a historically white sport, doing everything from C-walking during televised matches to wearing very distinct outfits to kicking it with Beyonce. Reid knew that going in arms with Kaepernick could tarnish his career, but exposing the world to our injustices was more important than making nice.

Insisting on all this “random” testing is not without its ramifications. The mere optics of getting tested frequently erodes an athlete’s character and credibility even if they’re innocent; it’s akin to a schoolteacher being accused of sexual relations with their students – even if you’re cleared following an investigation, your name and reputation remain tarnished.

There’s no surprise that this new era of political and social consciousness has hurt the NFL’s ratings (it doesn’t help that people are finally getting fed up with the league’s treatment of concussive injuries). Question Nike’s motives if you will, but the apparel mega-giant’s decision to back Kaepernick should be a Come to Jesus for the NFL to chill with the shenanigans.

The NFL, along with any other sports governing body, will continue to alienate the woke Black collective if they don’t evolve with the times. Black folks are still a minority in the United States by a long shot, but we are loud. And we aren’t about to be quiet any time soon.

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Dustin J. Seibert is a native Detroiter living in Chicago. Miraculously, people have paid him to be aggressively light-skinned via a computer keyboard for nearly two decades. He loves his own mama slightly more than he loves music and exercises every day only so his French fry intake doesn’t catch up to him. Find him at his own site, wafflecolored.com.