Nike makes Colin Kaepernick one of the faces of its ‘Just Do It’ campaign

Nike makes Colin Kaepernick one of the faces of its 'Just Do It' campaign
Honoree Colin Kaepernick speaks onstage at the ACLU's Annual Bill of Rights Dinner.
Honoree Colin Kaepernick speaks onstage at the ACLU’s Annual Bill of Rights Dinner.
Image: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

On Labor Day, Nike released a powerful ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, the NFL star still in exile for standing up for his beliefs.

The ad is a simple black and white image of Kaepernick’s face with the message, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Kaepernick tweeted the ad from his Twitter account Monday afternoon.

According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, the ad is part of a campaign that will make Kaepernick one of the faces of the company’s legendary “Just Do It” campaign, which turns 30 this year. The company also released ads featuring Serena Williams, NFL receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., and one-handed football player Shaquem Griffin, who made the Seattle Seahawks for the upcoming NFL season.

Kaepernick and Nike’s relationship has been at the heart of some controversy since Kaepernick became the target of both support and criticism over his decision to kneel for the national anthem before NFL games in protest of police violence against African-Americans. But, according to Rovell, it seems there was a plan all along.

That the ad dropped on Labor Day is either part of the message or a huge, impactful coincidence given that Kaepernick’s lawsuit against the NFL — alleging owners have colluded to keep him out of the league over his protests — is moving forward after a key ruling last week. 

The quarterback has been a free agent since he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers after the 2016 season and, so far, no other team has publicly extended him an offer since.

Kaepernick’s protests, which began in 2016, has long since spread to other athletes and embroiled players, the league, networks, and even the president in a long simmering debate. That debate led the NFL to implement new rules that would punish similar protests, a move seemingly made to appease President Trump, but they were eventually rolled back

Reactions to the ad began to pour in Monday afternoon from other NFL players and figures like Jemele Hill, who found herself at the center of a similar frenzy thanks to Trump’s infantile behavior

It’s all a little weird to see a giant corporation like Nike co-opting an activist movement for ad dollars. After all, it’s worth noting that Nike and the NFL just re-upped their partnership with Nike providing uniforms and apparel for every NFL team. 

The new ad also continues a wave of goodwill for Nike and athlete controversies; they got Twitter talking with this ad featuring Serena Williams a few weeks ago.

Though not as controversial, the ad was in response to a kerfuffle over the French Open’s decision to bar Williams from bringing back her popular “catsuit” outfit to the 2019 tournament.  

Regardless of where you stand on Kaepernick, though, that the ad dropped just days before the new NFL season kicks off on Thursday night will surely cause a lot of conversation and probably a new headache for the league and should make things that much more interesting to watch.

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Author:Marcus Gilmer

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