Eric Reid and Malcolm Jenkins had to be separated before the Carolina Panthers’ 21-17 victory at reigning champions Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday after their long-standing tension over national anthem protests spilled onto the pitch.
The two safeties clashed during the pre-match coin toss to see who will receive the ball before an agitated Reid had to be restrained by his Panthers team-mates and officials in an angry exchange at Lincoln Financial Field.
Reid and former San Francisco 49ers team-mates Colin Kaepernick were the first players to kneel during The Star Spangled Banner on September 1, 2016 in protest against social and racial inequality in the United States.
Reid and Jenkins have feuded since the Players Coalition, which the latter co-founded with former player Anquan Boldin in 2017 and is governed by 12 NFL players, struck a deal with NFL owners in May this year without Kaepernick or any other players involved in the negotiations, which the former believes was done intentionally.
The deal – believed to be worth around 100million US dollars – would see the NFL tackle social issues in exchange for players stopping their protests during the national anthem, with Jenkins immediately halting his raised fist salute. Reid subsequently resigned from the organisation after the agreement.
After the match, Reid told US sports news outlet Deadspin: “He (Jenkins) was corrupt from the jump. He knew what he was doing from the offset. His goal was to sell us out, and he did that.
“He co-opted the movement that was started by Colin to get his organisation funding.”
Kaepernick showed support to his ex-49ers team-mate on Twitter, it read: “Eric Reid!!! Enough said!!! @E_Reid35 #ImWithReid.”
Jenkins was diplomatic in response to Reid’s comments.
He said: “I would never get up here and say anything bad about somebody who I know whose intentions were real about helping the community, especially another black 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.”