SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The night before sitting down with 11 active players, 11 NFL owners, commissioner Roger Goodell and representatives from the NFL Players Association on Tuesday morning, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid met with Colin Kaepernick in New York.
Although Reid has said he has been in regular communication with Kaepernick, it's the first time he'd been able to see him since before the season started -- and it came only 24 hours after news broke that Kaepernick had filed a grievance under the collective bargaining agreement against NFL owners alleging collusion.
"He seemed like he was in a good place," Reid said of Kaepernick. "I don't want to talk too much about that out of respect for his case. But he's in good spirits."
One of the first things Reid noted when asked how Kaepernick was doing was how he looks physically. Reid said Kaepernick clearly looked like he'd been spending time in the weight room.
Kaepernick spent a big chunk of last season working to put weight back on after shoulder, thumb and knee surgeries prevented him from working out and left him well short of his traditional playing weight of 225 to 230 pounds. But Reid indicated that's no longer a problem for Kaepernick, who has not received an offer from a team since he opted out of his contract in March.
"He's doing well, working out, he's swole," Reid said. "He was joking with me because his arms got big, so he told me I have to get my curl game right. He looks good."
Aside from the usual catching up, Reid and Kaepernick also spent some time discussing issues Reid wanted to highlight in the meetings with NFL owners.
"He had some ideas," Reid said. "A couple of the things that we discussed were his idea, things that we talked about last year when we started this. It's cool to see how it kind of comes full circle to give those ideas in the meeting with the owners."
While reports indicate the NFLPA asked Kaepernick to attend the meetings along with Reid and the other players, Reid said Kaepernick didn't go because he had not received an invitation directly from the league.
"From my understanding, he wasn't invited by the NFL, so he didn't want to show up and be out of place," Reid said.
Reid, however, came away from those meetings feeling the owners had a better understanding of the social justice issues some players have been protesting, as well as ensuring the narrative remains centered on those issues.
"I think it went well," Reid said. "It was a start, had a lot of good conversation, and I think we're on the path to what Colin and I were looking for when we first started protesting. The NFL has agreed to commit to a long-term plan and use their platform to continue to raise awareness around the issues that affect our country and help us feel like we don't need to protest. So we're [going in] the right direction."
Reid said Kaepernick's name came up during the roughly four-hour meeting when he talked about how everything started and traced the timeline of the protests back to last year. Reid's hope is that Kaepernick will be involved in future meetings, given his role in starting these conversations.
"I hope so," Reid said. "A lot of guys in that meeting, they've done work in the community before we started protesting, but Colin is instrumental because he started the protest. So I think he has a special place in this, so hopefully he does get a chance to go to the meetings in the future."
Reid was the first player to join Kaepernick's protest of racial inequality during the national anthem last year. He first knelt alongside Kaepernick before the final preseason game against the Chargers. Reid knelt with Kaepernick for all of the 2016 season, then said he planned to stand for the anthem this season.
That plan lasted through the first two preseason games before the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, caused Reid to rethink his position and resume kneeling. He knelt for the final two preseason games and has through each of the first six games this season.
Although encouraged by what he heard in New York, Reid said the plan is to continue the protest until conversation turns to action.
"It doesn't change our plans just yet," Reid said. "Like I said, it's a great starting point. Nothing is set in stone yet, so nothing is going to change on my part moving forward until we get more concrete plans and to where I feel like I don't need to protest anymore because the NFL is providing a better platform."