With the new NFL season kicking off later this week, it’s no coincidence that athletic apparel giant Nike choose this week to unveil their new ad campaign, featuring currently unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Oh, he’s also currently engaged in a lawsuit against the NFL, alleging collusion by the owners to keep him off rosters in the wake of his controversial national anthem protest that began two years ago.
Emblazoned with the caption “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”, the new Nike ad simply features a black and white close-up of Kaepernick’s face.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaigns. Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr, and LeBron James are also featured in the campaign. However, the inclusion of Kaepernick has caused some people to lash out against the company.
— John Rich (@johnrich) September 3, 2018
These pictures of people cutting the Nike logo off clothes THEY ALREADY PAID for is really hilarious pic.twitter.com/u6Ggxpwosb
— Dominiqué (@domuhhneek) September 3, 2018
First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive? pic.twitter.com/4CVQdTHUH4
— Sean Clancy (@sclancy79) September 3, 2018
Somehow, we doubt Nike is worried about people destroying products they already paid for. They certainly would have been aware of the debate prior to releasing the Kaepernick poster.
“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” said Nike’s vice president of brand for North America Gino Fisanotti, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
Although we’re sure it doesn’t matter to some people, this is a good time to point out that Kaepernick’s protest was never anti-anthem, anti-military, anti-flag, or anti–military. He was using his position to bring awareness to police brutality and racial inequality, and switched from sitting during the anthem to kneeling after consulting with a U.S. veteran, who suggested kneeling would still be respectful.
Kaepernick’s case against the NFL is ongoing, with an arbitrator recently refusing to throw out the case entirely, which the NFL was requesting.