Kaepernick, who is currently not signed to any NFL team, is known for kneeling during the national anthem to protest both police brutality and racial inequality. (Image via OregonLive.com)
Thoughts x

The decision is, as you might guess, a controversial one.

On Monday, Nike revealed its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, starring former NFL player Colin Kaepernick.

The campaign poster, revealed just days before the beginning of the NFL season, features Kaepernick’s face in black and white and a phrase that reads: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Kaepernick played in the NFL for six seasons, but has more recently become known for taking a knee during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality in the U.S. The former San Francisco 49ers player left the team in 2016 and soon after became a free agent quarterback.

After facing punishment for his actions, Kaepernick refused to go against his beliefs, and he officially became a free agent in March 2017. He has yet to be signed to a team.

The free agent is still signed to Nike’s endorsement roster, which he originally was reported to become a part of in 2011. Nike, fully aware of the former NFL player’s status as a free agent, did not remove him from their roster and chose him to represent their newest campaign.

Reactions to the campaign have been mixed, as were the reactions to Kaepernick kneeling in the first place. Although his actions did inspire athletes to join him in kneeling, he received a lot of backlash from President Donald Trump, who viewed the act as being disrespectful to the country, military and national anthem itself.

Trump even talked about Kaepernick during a 2017 rally in Alabama, mentioning that he wished an NFL owner would say, “get that son of a b—- off the field right now.”

In response to the actions of Kaepernick, the NFL changed its policy in May, so players can opt not to stand on the field during the anthem; however, the revised policy asserts that NFL players who publicly protest at the same time as the anthem will face punishment.

Despite Trump’s active dislike for Kaepernick’s protests, a lot of celebrities and actors supported the campaign. YouTuber Casey Neistat, for example, tweeted, “dear [Nike] i appreciate you for standing with [Kaepernick].”

On the other hand, some fans have openly decided to burn their Nike products in protest.

Nike making Kaepernick the face of its new campaign speaks wonders for his movement, especially since the free agent is currently suing the NFL for collusion. By choosing Kaepernick as its new face, Nike is choosing to side with him over the NFL and protesters — even Trump.

The decision will also bring a huge amount of attention to Kaepernick himself and the issues that he supports. Although Kaepernick originally started protesting nearly two years ago, the policy brutality and racial inequality in America has not gotten any better.

By defending his actions, Nike is stepping forward to support Kaepernick, which will hopefully lead others to do the same.

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Rebecca Crosby

American University


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