Over the long weekend, Nike debuted their newest advertisements, celebrating the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign. They featured a polarizing athlete that they knew would get the world talking, no matter where your opinion of him stands.
Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who gained national attention for being the first player to kneel during the Nation Anthem in protest, is the face of Nike’s newest Just Do It campaign.
Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem before every game in the 2016 season to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
The new advertisement features a black and white close up of Kaepernick with “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” written in white letters across his face.
This statement is in reference to the public stance Kaepernick took in 2016. After that season, he opted out of his contract, making him a free agent but was unable to get picked up by any other NFL team. He is currently suing the football organization for collusion, insinuating that the league is conspiring against him, preventing him from playing because of his protests.
Kaepernick’s deal with Nike is not a new endeavor. The former quarterback, who – as the backup QB – led the 49ers to their first Super Bowl appearance in 2012 since 1994 when he had to step in after the starter Alex Smith suffered a season-ending concussion, signed a deal with the athletic wear company in 2011, according to ESPN.
Although Nike hadn’t used him in an ad in over two years, the company’s Vice President Gino Fisanotti revealed why they thought now was the perfect time to feature him again.
“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,” he said.
Nike’s decision did not go over well with everyone – especially John Rich, of country duo Big & Rich. The outspoken singer took to Twitter to voice his grievances with the company’s decision.
He fired off his first tweet to Nike and included a photo of socks Kaepernick once wore with pigs dressed as police officers.
After a few more tweets replying to Twitter users who disagreed with him, Rich encouraged everyone who didn’t like what he was saying to unfollow him, tweeting, “When you compare police to PIGS, this ends the discussion for me. If you don’t find a problem with that, then feel free to unfollow me. The police JUST SHOWED UP at our concert to protect and serve, I’ll ask them what they think and get back to you…”
Rich also revealed that his Soundman, a former Marine, had cut off the iconic Nike swoosh from the socks he was wearing, and guessed that many more people will shortly follow suit.
He ended his Twitter rant with the following tweet, saying that everyone has a right to protest, but Kaepernick crossed the line when he compared police to pigs.
For now, Rich has said his peace and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it. How do you feel about the Nike campaign and Rich’s comments?