Kaepernick’s Comeback

He's Back, and He's Here to Stay

Nike+celebrates+it%27s+30th+anniversary+of+%22Just+Do+It%22+with+former+NFL+player%2C+Colin+Kaepernick%2C+as+the+new+face+of+the+campaign.

Courtesy of Nike

Nike celebrates it's 30th anniversary of "Just Do It" with former NFL player, Colin Kaepernick, as the new face of the campaign.

A little over a year after Colin Kaepernick left the NFL, after the controversy he caused with his silent protests, he has come back into the spotlight after Nike announced that he would be the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. On September 3, the former 49ers quarterback posted the ad on his social media platforms.

Immediately after, mixed opinions were expressed all over the internet. Many praised Nike for supporting Kaepernick’s fight against racial equality, but public uproar erupted from those who believe that his actions were disrespectful towards the flag, veterans, and America as a whole. Some even went to the extreme and posted videos of themselves cutting up their nike gear and burning their sneakers.

Mississippi state public safety agency, Louisiana Mayor Ben Zahn, and a Christian college in Missouri have boycotted Nike since the campaign was released. In Mississippi, Commissioner Marshall Fisher said, “As commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, I will not support vendors who do not support law enforcement and our military.” This decision was supported by Governor Phil Bryant (The Blaze). Despite the major backlash, however, Nike’s online sales have increased 31 percent, which is a significant improvement from last year’s 17% (Fortune).

Ultimately, Nike is just another company looking for the best way to make money. They observed the trend of politics and social activism and used Kaepernick as an opportunity to take a new marketing risk. Nike using Kaepernick for their campaign doesn’t necessarily mean they’re liberal or socially aware; ironically Nike co-founder, Phil Knight, donated $500,000 to a GOP candidate in Oregon last year, a party that is commonly known to be hostile towards the Black Lives Matter movement- the very movement Kaepernick is fighting for (Fox News). Not only that, but Nike has also signed a 8-year deal with NFL, the very organization that allegedly colluded against Kaepernick in order to keep him from getting signed onto a team (CNN).

Currently, Kaepernick’s lawsuit against the NFL is still ongoing, and by the looks of it, it seems like he might be getting back into football very soon. His lawyer, Mark Geragos, hinted that a couple of teams were interested in him (SF Gate).

Giovanni Micallef (11) is a fan of the 49ers, and he is currently the quarterback on the varsity football team. He liked the ad because he thinks that “if someone really believes in something, he should be willing to sacrifice everything for it.”

Mr. Walls (staff) looked at Kaepernick’s actions through the lens of previous events throughout American history; changing the culture and the entire way of living of the South during the early to mid 1900s is vastly different than bringing awareness to unjust police violence in the present, so when compared to the civil rights era “the stakes are lower [in Kaepernick’s situation], but it definitely bears some similarities to previous forms of peaceful protests.”

Granted, Kaepernick doesn’t have to face the same levels of danger as the freedom riders had to when they were protesting segregation. However, their methods and goals are the same: both protested peacefully with the intent of ending racial injustices in society.

At the end of the day, Kaepernick continues to fight the good fight; he knew the average American wasn’t going to pay attention to his message without a grand gesture, so he decided to kneel on the field, where everyone in the audience and everyone at home watching the game could see him clearly. He used his platform to shed light on police brutality, a disease that still plagues this nation to this day. This is all bigger than football, Nike, and the flag; this is about fixing a broken system that lets murderers walk free with no repercussions. This is about recognizing the existence of systematic racism and how it influences authority to treat people differently because of their skin color. This is about bringing justice to the innocent men, women, and children who died because America has failed them. Kaepernick is just taking the first step towards change, and he has my support. Does he have yours?