Colin Kaepernick and Nike nearly broke the internet on September 3 when the former quarterback shared an ad that spoke to his influential role on the field in leading the infamous anthem protests. Since he first sat during the national anthem in 2016, Kaepernick has welcomed both hate and adoration his way, unwavering from his cause. The photo, part of Nike's 30th anniversary "Just Do It" ad campaign, comes on the heels of reports of Kaepernick's renegotiation with the iconic athletic brand comes to a close. Fans and politicians alike have latched onto the ad, prompting even a response from President Trump who has not been shy about his feelings regarding the anthem protests since 2016.
From burning Nike gear to a plummeting Nike stock, folks across the country have clearly reacted against it. Implying full support for quarterback Colin Kaepernick's cause of exposing racial injustice and systemic police brutality in America, Nike drew the line in the sand. This is a move that many brands during the Trump presidency have been afraid to do, often shying away from the hard-hitting realities of the political divide. It's easy to see why a company may avoid ruffling feathers, but this is Nike. The more publicity, the better.
The laundry list of spokesmen and women who have condemned the ad is long, but it's Taya Kyle's response that is drawing attention now. Widow to United States Navy SEAL sniper and veteran Chris Kyle, Taya uses her platform to raise awareness for issues she feels intimately connected with since her late husband, the subject of American Sniper, passed away.
She wrote in September 2017 on her Facebook page, where her opinions are most often expressed, that the NFL had "lost her" after allowing the anthem protests to continue into the 2017 season. Now, she penned an open letter to Nike in the same vein. The text follows, per her social media post.
Nike, I love your gear, but you exhaust my spirit on this one. Your new ad with Colin Kapernick, I get the message, but that sacrificing everything thing.... It just doesn't play out here. Sacrificing what exactly? A career? I've done that both times I chose to stay home and be with my kids instead of continuing my business climb... and it wasn't sacrificing everything. It was sacrificing one career and some money and it was because of what I believe in and more importantly, who I believe in.
At best, that is all Colin sacrificed... some money and it's debatable if he really lost his career over it. Maybe he sacrificed the respect of some people while he gained the respect of others. Or maybe he used one career to springboard himself into a different career when the first was waning. I don't know. What I do know is, he gained popularity and magazine covers he likely wouldn't have gotten without getting on his knees or as you say, "believing in something." I'm also thinking the irony is that while I am not privy to the numbers, it's likely he gained a lucrative Nike contract. So yeah... that whole "sacrificing everything" is insulting to those who really have sacrificed everything.
You want to talk about someone in the NFL sacrificing everything? Pat Tillman. NFL STARTING, not benched, player who left to join the Army and died for it. THAT is sacrificing everything for something you believe in.
How about other warriors? Warriors who will not be on magazine covers, who will not get lucrative contracts and millions of followers from their actions and who have truly sacrificed everything. They did it because they believed in something. Take it from me, when I say they sacrificed everything, they also sacrificed the lives of their loved ones who will never be the same. THAT is sacrificing everything for something they believe in.
Did you get us talking? Yeah, you did. But, your brand recognition was strong enough. Did you teach the next generation of consumers about true grit? Not that I can see.
Taking a stand, or rather a knee, against the flag which has covered the caskets of so many who actually did sacrifice everything for something they believe in, that we all believe in? Well, the irony of your ad..it almost leaves me speechless. Were you trying to be insulting?
Maybe you are banking on the fact we won't take the time to see your lack of judgement in using words that just don't fit. Maybe you are also banking on us not seeing Nike as kneeling before the flag. Or maybe you want us to see you exactly that way. I don't know. All I know is, I was actually in the market for some new kicks and at least for now, I've never been more grateful for Under Armour.
Widow Taya Kyle draws connections in her condemning opinion post to Pat Tillman, former safety for the Arizona Cardinals who later died in 2004 in Afghanistan after joining the military. While Kyle may feel that she knows the Tillmans' thoughts on the matter because like Marie Tillman, Pat Tillman's widow, she is also a widow of a serviceman.
However, Marie Tillman expressed her opinions on the anthem protests last September, around the same time Kyle posted her first condemning Facebook post.
There are valid points, however, to Kyle's monologue. It is interesting to wonder what Navy SEAL Chris Kyle might have thought of these anthem protests were he alive today. Though Kaepernick may or may not have been questionably blacklisted from the league, it is true that he has not lost everything in this fight. Football, certainly, was his life prior to this stand, but one could argue that his new role as a social justice leader is worth far, far more than a Super Bowl ring.
That being said, the ill-stated wording of Nike's ad does not negate the entire point. NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has taken a stand, and if you ask me, it's a damn good one to choose. When was the last time you stood up for something that made folks so irate, they threaten to mutilate and kill you? I thought so...
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