Controversial quarterback and activist now on the frontline of Nike’s new ad campaign
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
On September 4, Nike announced that Colin Kaepernick would be one of the athletes featured in their 2018 “Just Do It” campaign. Kaepernick—formerly of the San Francisco 49ers—is best known for being a two-time winner of the Western Athletic Conference’s “Offensive Player of the Year” award (in 2008 and 2010) and, in recent years, for his 2016 kneeling protest during the national anthem.
In 2016, during his third game of the preseason, Kaepernick chose to remain seated rather than stand during the American national anthem. Then in his fourth game he took a knee in more obvious protest. When questioned, Kaepernick told reporters, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and People of Colour. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
His comments were in response to several incidents relating to police brutality and systematic racism, most notably the case of Michael Brown Jr. who was fatally shot in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
Needless to say, Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick has been divisive. On one side, some people were burning the brand’s shoes and calling for a boycott of the company. Meanwhile, others praised Nike for their decision to support someone deeply involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Nike’s endorsement of Kaepernick comes at a time when Kaepernick is currently in a legal dispute with the NFL, who have an exclusive brand deal with Nike as the official provider of all the player jerseys used in the NFL. According to The Washington Post, who had contact with an NFL insider, Nike did not give the NFL any warning regarding their decision.