Tensions over protests during the national anthem at National Football League games spilled onto the field Sunday in Philadelphia when the Eagles met the Carolina Panthers.
During the pregame coin toss, Panthers safety Eric Reid walked onto the field to confront Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who was taking part in the ceremony. Other Panthers players came out to hold Reid back.
Reid, who knelt during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner, said after the Panthers’ 21-17 victory that Jenkins, who no longer holds up his fist in protest, was a “sellout” and a “neo-colonialist.”
Jenkins is the leader of a group called the Players Coalition, which reached an agreement with the NFL in November 2017. The agreement states that the league will contribute approximately $90 million to community-oriented causes favored by players.
Reid is close with Colin Kaepernick, who started the protests back in 2016 to call attention to social and racial injustice.
The protests quickly became controversial, with President Donald Trump repeatedly criticizing them as unpatriotic and disrespectful.
Kaepernick and Reid filed grievances against the NFL alleging collusion after they were left unsigned by any teams. While Kaepernick is still without a team, Reid was signed in late September by the Panthers after safety Da’Norris Searcy suffered a season-ending concussion.
“We believe a lot of players should have stepped up for Colin. I believe Malcolm capitalized on the situation,” Reid said after the game, according to The Associated Press. He co-opted the movement that was started by Colin to get his organization funded. It’s cowardly. He sold us out.”
Jenkins was measured in his response to Reid’s criticism, saying: “I’m not going to get up here and say anything negative about that man. I respect him. I’m glad he has a job. I’m glad he’s back in the league. I’ll leave it like that.”
Reid also received support in a tweet from Kaepernick.