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May 19, 2019

Phillips: Somebody is lying about Eric Reid’s drug testing, and this is only going to get uglier

January 11, 2019

Somebody is lying.

We just don’t know who it is…yet.

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On one side there’s the NFL and the National Football League Players Association, and on the other sits Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid and his legal team.

On Wednesday morning, the NFL and the NFLPA released a statement in response to Reid’s claims that he had been drug tested seven times in 11 weeks.

Throughout the season, Reid implied that he felt he was being targeted. And I mean, who could blame him?

Reid is a close friend of Colin Kaepernick, continued to kneel in peaceful protest during the national anthem before every game this past season, and got into a heated pregame scuffle with Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, the man who is the leader of the Players Coalition. The Players Coalition is the very same group that Reid and Kaepernick walked away from after Jenkins and the rest of the members decided to take the league’s money for social justice programs if they stopped their pregame demonstrations.

Which is why the last 48 hours have been so uncomfortable.

Eric Reid. (Mike McCarn / AP)

“We take any claim questioning the integrity of our collectively bargained performance enhancing drug policy seriously. We asked the independent administrator of the policy to review and produce a report on the claims of targeting. A copy of this report, which contains personal and confidential testing information, has been provided to Eric Reid. We will not breach any player’s confidentiality, but can confirm that the report documents the dates he was randomly selected for testing and the actual dates of the drug tests,” read the joint statement from the NFL and NFLPA on Wednesday.

“The report also demonstrates that Mr. Reid’s tests were randomly generated via computer algorithm and that his selection for testing was normal when compared with the number of tests players were randomly selected for throughout the league during the time he was an on an active roster. There is no evidence of targeting or any other impropriety with respect to his selection for testing.”

By Thursday, Reid’s lawyers had responded and disputed the NFL and NFLPA’s statement. They believe Reid was singled out and targeted with excessive testing, and are demanding that both groups “immediately issue a retraction.”

Shortly after the joint statement was released, there were reports from The Washington Post and Pro Football Talk that Reid was not tested seven times.

Eric Reid got into an on-field altercation with Players Coalition leader Malcolm Jenkins back in October.
Eric Reid got into an on-field altercation with Players Coalition leader Malcolm Jenkins back in October. (Mitchell Leff / Getty Images)

In the letter from Reid’s lawyers that was obtained by the Associated Press, Reid’s representatives are standing by his claims and are requesting that the independent administrator provide all the information that was used to produce the report’s conclusion.

Reid’s lawyers are also claiming that some of the dates in the report are incorrect and they want a public correction.

As I said, somebody is lying.

And it doesn’t seem like either side is going to budge, either.

Reid doesn’t come off as the kind of guy who would make something up like this. However, a source within the NFLPA pointed the Daily News towards a line in their statement that people should be paying close attention to.

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“We will not breach any player’s confidentiality, but can confirm that the report documents the dates he was randomly selected for testing and the actual dates of the drug tests,” reads the line in the statement.

I don’t know what, or who, to believe.

But I do know this.

In April, I wrote about how Reid’s situation with the Cincinnati Bengals exemplified the hypocrisy of that franchise and the NFL. One of the best safeties in the league was a free agent but was passed over because a franchise that’s had at least 44 players arrested since 2000 had an issue with the idea of him kneeling, and would rather sign players with legal baggage.

In October, I opined about how I appreciated the fact that Reid was educated and unapologetically black.

“Next year will be 2019. It will mark 400 years since the first slaves touched the soil of this country. That’s 400 years of systemic oppression,” Reid explained in his opening press conference as a Panther. “That’s slavery, Jim Crow, new Jim Crow, mass incarceration, you name it. The Great Depression — they come out with the New Deal, and black people didn’t have access to those government stimulus packages. The New Deal set up what is known as the modern-day middle class. We didn’t have access to those programs, the GI Bill, social security, home loans, none of that. So this has been happening since my people have gotten here. And so, I just felt the need to say something about it.”

And in November, I chronicled how between all the “random” drug tests he took and some of the questionable calls that had been overturned against him from the league offices, it felt like the NFL was sending him a clear message.

Again, somebody is lying.

But no matter who it turns out to be, it won’t be pretty.

This thing has turned into a hot mess, and somebody’s reputation is going to be forever damaged.

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