Ron Rivera said he believes Eric Reid is exercising his First Amendment rights by kneeling during the anthem.
Ron Rivera has no issue with safety Eric Reid kneeling during the national anthem, the Panthers coach said on a call with D.C. media on Wednesday.
Rivera, whose Panthers sit at 3–1 heading into Sunday's matchup against the Redskins, told reporters he did not have a problem with Reid's pregame protests despite the national debate that has surrounded the topic since 2016.
“The biggest reason it’s not an issue to me is I believe in the First Amendment," Rivera said. “And that’s all he did was exercise his First Amendment. As far as I’m concerned, he’s an American citizen entitled to exercise his rights.”
Reid, who signed a one-year deal with the Panthers on Sept. 27, knelt during the national anthem in his Panthers debut against the Giants. He was the first player to join Colin Kaepernick in protest of police brutality and racial inequality in 2016 and is currently pursuing a collusion grievance against the NFL.
The Pro Bowl safety said he told Rivera before last week's game that he would continue protesting, but clarified that he didn't feel like he needed the approval.
Reid will likely kneel again on Sunday when the team is in Washington.