Following the announcement that Nike was making Colin Kaepernick the face of a 30th anniversary celebration of the company’s famed “Just Do It” campaign, there was some question as to how the NFL might respond to its business partner, considering the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback remains unsigned and recently won a summary judgment in his collusion case against the league.
Consider Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis the first NFL bigwig to openly support Kaepernick.
“Absolutely” it’s a good idea for Nike to feature Kaepernick in its branding, Davis told TMZ. “Why not?”
While Kaepernick was sponsored by Nike during his playing days, the 30-year-old will have his own branded line as part of a new multi-million-dollar deal, according to Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson.
Fiery opposition to Colin Kaepernick
The move was met with predictable fury from people who oppose Kaepernick’s social views. During the 2016 NFL season, the quarterback began kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial inequality and social injustice, including police brutality. He parted ways with the 49ers five years after leading them within inches of a Super Bowl XLVII victory and has not played in the NFL since.
UFC fighter Tim Kennedy and country singer John Rich were among Nike’s most vocal critics following Monday’s announcement, calling into question Kaepernick’s (and, by extension, Nike’s) devotion to the American flag, the U.S. military and everything for which they believe the national anthem stands. Some Kaepernick critics took to social media, burning Nike apparel in protest of the endorsement.
More support for Kaepernick’s Nike deal
Others, like Texas senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, contend, “I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, any time, anywhere, in any place.” On Monday, supporters pledged to buy more Nike gear, and people from CIA director John Brennan to superstar athletes (and Nike endorsers) LeBron James and Serena Williams applauded the decision.
Still, Kaepernick’s case against the NFL, which was found by an arbitrator to contain enough evidence suggesting the league’s owners have actively colluded to keep him unsigned, looms over it all. Nike is the NFL’s official jersey sponsor, and there is some concern that this new deal could complicate the partnership. Publicly, at least, Davis suggested to TMZ those worries may be somewhat overblown.
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