Whether you’re into American football or not, the odds are, you’ve probably heard of Colin Kaepernick. The former NFL quarterback has been consistently making headlines since he first kneeled during the American national anthem in protest against police brutality targeting African Americans in the United States.
Due to his political stance, the football player has been positioned at the helm of the American national debate. He lost his contracts with the NFL and has since been a free agent—putting his activism front and centre.
And while many have expressed their disdain for his decision to kneel (including President Trump, who has continuously encouraged the football league to fire those who partake in the protest), Kaepernick’s activism is being lauded by Nike. The sportswear company, who has for long been one of the NFL’s biggest sponsors, chose the footballer as the face of their latest Just Do it campaign, in celebration of its 30th anniversary.
The company’s decision to feature Kaepernick doesn’t come without convolution. As an NFL partner, Nike could have gone towards a more politically correct route so as to not offend the league. Instead, the ad reads “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything”—a direct reference to Kaepernick’s relationship with the NFL.
This is the first time Kaepernick has featured in a Nike campaign since his departure from the NFL. “We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” said Nike executive Gino Fisanotti to ESPN.
Odell Beckham Jr, Serena Williams, and Lebron James are among the other athletes featured in the campaign.