Mac Engel

Cowboys need Eric Reid but his anthem protests could cost him — and that's on you

Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick kneel during the national anthem before a game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2016.
Eric Reid and Colin Kaepernick kneel during the national anthem before a game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2016. Assocated Press

No behavior and no amount of money has ever deterred Jerry Jones from signing a single player. But we have found an action so abhorrent that the owner of the Dallas Cowboys will not tolerate.

Safety Eric Reid is a player the Cowboys could use, and he will come at a decent price. But he's one of them kneelers. Jerry's tolerance for off-the-field issues is legendary, but he doesn't have the stomach for those who take a knee.

Because he knows you don't.

Any team's decision not to pursue a perfectly serviceable 26-year-old player is on you.

You can blame Jerry Jones for everything up to and including the direction of the sunrise, but this type of decision is based on the fans.

And the fans don't like them kneelers. How pathetic.

Fans can cheer drug dealers, DWI offenders, killers, rapists and beaters of dogs and women. But a few dudes who silently and peacefully protest by not standing during the national anthem? Fans will turn, walk away and not spend their money.

Because they don't care. Because they believe the preposterous idea that these players were protesting the American flag. Or the troops.

NFL free agency is running, and Reid can't find a job even though, while he's not a great player, he merits a contract. He is one of the players who protested next to former 49ers teammate Colin Kaepernick. While Reid's name is nowhere near as synonymous with the NFL-player-protest movement as Kaepernick's, he is being treated like the ex-49ers quarterback.

Kaep' was just another can't-play, spare backup quarterback, but he was good enough to be on a team. The only reason every NFL team ran from him was because of that knee.

Reid is now getting Kaep'd.

NFL owners are scared that some of the league's declining attendance and TV ratings are linked to the player protest movement.

As evidenced by the Philadelphia Eagles, which featured several players who protested, the act had no negative effect on results. The Eagles won the Super Bowl, which is normally considered a good achievement in pro football.

The people who took this all wrong simply need to take the fast lane to get over themselves. No one is getting hurt during these protests. No one is threatening anyone. The whole thing takes about two minutes, and we know you're ignoring it anyway. Just deal with it.

At the behest of Sheriff Stephen Jones, the Cowboys are no longer shopping in the Neiman's section of NFL free agency. Even with this new "cost conscious" mindset there is a genuine match for need and price at the safety position.

Reid is only 26. He's not going to cost a lot. Byron Jones can't play safety. Jeff Heath is a great story and a nice player.

Reid could be a bridge to a guy who could actually bear some resemblance to Darren Woodson, which this defense desperately needs.

You may not remember, but in 2013 the Cowboys had the 18th pick in the NFL Draft and traded down with the 49ers to the 31st spot.

The Cowboys' selection of Wisconsin center Travis Frederick was roundly ripped, but he turned into the anchor on the offensive line the team projected. With the pick the Cowboys' acquired from the 49ers, they chose Baylor receiver Terrance Williams.

The Cowboys nailed that move.

Meanwhile, the 49ers selected Reid in the Cowboys' original slot.

The Cowboys liked Reid, but Jerry said he felt the LSU safety was "too rich" at 18. Our Pro Football Hall of Famer was right. Reid did, however, develop into a decent player for some good and some terrible 49ers teams.

The only reason to not like him now is because of his knee.

Speaking of rich ...

Jerry was the only man willing to sign Greg Hardy in 2015 after he had been convicted by a North Carolina judge of nearly beating his ex-girlfriend to death. And although the move disgusted some of you, AT&T Stadium was full when Hardy made his debut, and every single Cowboys fan cheered when he sacked Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Fans defended Hardy when he famously snapped, "no comment" to reporters after he nearly assaulted an assistant coach during a sideline blowup against the Giants in New Jersey.

Michael Irvin had repeated run-ins with the law during his Hall of Fame career with the Cowboys, and his No. 88 jerseys flew off the shelves.

Cowboys fans sure did cheer when Leon Lett came back after his drug suspension in 1995.

Adam "Pacman" Jones was handed a pass by the fans when Jerry signed him in 2008, even though Pac had been arrested six times before joining the team.

How can we forget the waste of time that was the addition of Tank Johnson? He, too, arrived in 2008 after the Bears dumped him, in part because of his arrest on firearms charges.

Starting with Jerry's "gateway drug" — Charles Haley — others arrived to the Cowboys covered in concerns and red flags: Alonzo Spellman, Dimitrius Underwood, Terrell Owens, to name a few. At various points, they all were cheered, celebrated and fans bought their jerseys.

Again, some of these men had criminal records.

But Eric Reid?

That's one knee too far, which is entirely on you.

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