From the Fields to the Film: A Timeline of Colin Kaepernick’s Nike Advertisement

 

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick, the then quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers NFL team decided to make a statement to the American public. During the 49ers August 14th and August 20th preseason home games, Kaepernick went almost unnoticed sitting on the bench during the American National Anthem, while much of the athletes and the rest of the stadium stood with their hand over the heart. On August 26th, a reporter tweeted a photo of the 49ers and people realized Kaepernick was sitting during the National Anthem. This gained attention in the media to which both the 49ers media team and Colin Kaepernick responded; the 49ers simply confirmed that Kaepernick was sitting while Kaepernick later confirmed he intentionally sat during the anthem to protest oppression and police brutality in the United States. On September 1st, 2016, after explaining himself to the media, Kaepernick kneeled on the field for the first time, gaining more public and media attention for his actions. Many Americans, including some fellow NFL players, followed in Kaepernick’s steps and started sitting or kneeling for the National Anthem. Even President Trump had much to say about Kaepernick’s actions tweeting, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect [...] our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do.”

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Two years later, Colin Kaepernick has not been signed to an NFL team since that 2016-2017 season, but still is active in his statement, creating the Know Your Rights campaign and donating over a million dollars to underprivileged and uneducated parts of the country. The country is still divided over the act of kneeling for the anthem, to the point where peaceful and violent protest have broken out across the country.

On Monday September 3rd, 2018, Nike, a popular sports brand, ran its first ad featuring the infamous ex-quarterback in a black and white photo with the text, “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.” Due to the past controversy surrounding Kaepernick and his obvious involvement in radical movements, Nike received a lot of media attention and a lot of backlash for choosing Kaepernick to be a part of their campaign. Some people who disagreed with Nikes decisions even went as far as burning their own Nike gear to protest the sports brand decision to include Kaepernick in their advertisement. Within the week, Nike also released a commercial about reaching our dreams no matter how far away they are with Kaepernick narrating throughout the film advertisement. Along with Kaepernick’s past actions in 2016, President Trump commented in a tweet about Nike’s decision, obviously disagreeing with the brand tweeting, “What was Nike thinking?”

Opposing President Trump's’ tweets, “Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG,” Nike’s sales have gone up 31% and are still currently rising as people show their support for their brand and, concurrently, for Colin Kaepernick and his campaign.

On November 13th, 2018, a 49ers cheerleader, the team Kaepernick was last on, kneeled for the National Anthem seemingly in solidarity with Kaepernick’s protest. The cheerleader who took a knee during the National Anthem has since been revealed as Kayla Morris and has been seen kneeling on multiple game days during the national anthem. The San Francisco 49ers cheerleader went viral earlier in November after kneeling in support of NFL player protests against police brutality and racial injustice. Neither the cheerleader nor the squad has issued a statement about her reason for kneeling nor her placement on the team, but the solidarity with Kaepernick is seemingly obvious.

The controversy surrounding Kaepernick and his bold political statements still exist and will most likely continue to exist among our divided country. With that, questions are still arising over how and where someone, anyone is able to take a stand in the United States.