“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Colin Kaepernick went from leading a team to the Superbowl, and being a well-respected quarterback in the NFL, to the most talked about and controversial player in last decade. Recently, he has now become the new face of Nike’s latest ‘Just do it’ advert. It becomes even more significant, given it is the 30thyear edition. Throughout this controversy since 2016 many thought Kaepernick lost all his endorsements, but Nike decided to stick by him, and have now come to his aid against the hierarchy in America with this campaign.
Kaepernick’s first protest was almost two years ago but went unnoticed in the pre-season games as he first began simply sitting down on the benches next to the field, but he then later knelt in protest. His reasoning was down to his belief that he should not stand in pride for a flag of a country that “oppresses black people and people of colour”. This message from Kaepernick was followed up by many other NFL players. The context behind the kneeling is not what many people are led to believe, it is about police brutality and trying to make a stand against the abuse of power against black people in America.
In my opinion the support for the campaign has been immense, huge names from Lebron James to rapper J Cole and more have openly come out supporting Kaepernick and the other NFL players for standing up for what they believe in. It is the opposition however, which has blown this protest global. The most notable opposer at this protest for race and equality, is the President of the United States. Donald Trump has a deluded outlook on the protests as a whole, as he is trying to portray them as a protest against the American flag, and disrespect for the people who serve their country. It has never been about that, and his calls for anyone kneeling to be “fired immediately” from their job, blows this hugely out of proportion. After he made such strong comments last September, it fuelled many more sportsmen, from all backgrounds to stand united. Many teams backed their players, and some even protested as an entire collective. This saga has been going on for nearly two years, and only recently have things noticeably started to change.
The NFL remained silent on this for a while, but all the owners have voted unanimously for a new policy, which requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance of the song. Players do have the option to remain in the locker room, and if someone does kneel team fines will be issued. This didn’t go down well for many of the players, as this shows how the owners are trying to cover up this protest. One owner abstained from the vote, and that was the owner from Colin Kaepernick’s old team, the San Francisco 49ers. The NFL players association did come out with a statement against this policy saying they more than happily “challenge any aspect” of the rule that violates players rights. It will be interesting to see what happens, as the new season will have just kicked off, when you are reading this article.
Kaepernick still remains a free agent, and has as recently as a few weeks ago, been granted the opportunity to take the NFL and the owners of the NFL to court, over an implied and possible collusion to keep him out of a job. He was granted one try-out with the Seattle Seahawks in April, but it was postponed due to his refusal to tell the team whether he’d continue to protest during the anthem. Many people know that even though he may not be classed as an elite franchise player, he is most certainly better than over half the quarterbacks employed in the NFL and could even start for some teams. However, whilst he may still be out of an NFL job, he has remained busy, not only by remaining with Nike, but consistently doing charity work. He has refused to comment on the protests since he left the NFL and has also stopped himself on speaking about Trump’s criticisms of the protests. The backing from Nike is huge, the company currently boasts a worth around $30 billion, and sales have risen since the advert has gone out. As long as a company as large as a Nike continues to bring light to these issues that Kaepernick first wanted to bring light to, these protests should only get stronger, and it will only be a matter of time before something will surely be done. This whole issue still shows the naivety of many people to accept equality in all walks of life.