by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)
According to hollywoodreporter.com, Nike unveiled the face of its campaign celebrating 30 years of its “Just do it” campaign – none other than that of Colin Kaepernick. In the ad, the former NFL quarterback is looking at the camera, and printed over the image is: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.”
Kaepernick has been a Nike athlete since 2011, but the Super Bowl QB has not played on a team since 2016. Kaepernick created a national firestorm when he began kneeling during the National Anthem in an effort to protest African-American inequality and police brutality in America. Since then, a number of players on all teams have kneeled or raised a fist during the anthem for the same protest.
Last season, as the debate over protesting was burning ever hotter, the NFL and the NFL Players Association defended the right for those who wanted to protest peacefully.
According to bleacherreport.com, Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the Niners in March 2017 and hasn’t been able to find a new team since. An April visit with the Seattle Seahawks was postponed after he did not assure the franchise he’d stand for the anthem if signed, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told Steve Wyche of NFL Media about the decision he made in 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
The 30-year-old quarterback filed a collusion grievance against the league, which claimed he was being kept out of the league because of the protests he started. His argument received a boost last week when arbitrator Stephen B. Burbank ruled there was enough evidence to require a full hearing.
Although Kaepernick has received numerous honors for his efforts, including being named GQ magazine’s Citizen of the Year for 2017, the movement he started remains polarizing.
Meanwhile, NFL owners approved anthem rules in May that would force players to stand if they are on the field or they must remain in the locker room during the anthem. Teams with players who did not comply with the new policy would be subject to league fines, and teams could also hand out individual punishments. Those guidelines are on hold, however, as discussions between the NFL and the players’ union continue with the 2018 season set to start this Thursday.