Colin Kaepernick may not have been able to find a team to play for this season, but he managed to land a huge endorsement deal anyway. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has been tapped by Nike as the face of their 30th anniversary “Just Do It” according to Bleacher Report.
Sports Illustrated reported that Nike has been paying Kaepernick all along, waiting for the right moment to drop the news that he was the new face of the campaign. Darren Rovell of ESPN first reported the news, and the tidbit. Nike signed Kaepernick in 2011 but he has not been used in a campaign for two years.
“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,” Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of brand for North America, told ESPN.
Kaepernick was playing for the 49ers in 2016 when he decided it was time to take a stand by not standing for the national anthem. Instead, he knelt during the customary rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” that is played before every NFL game. He did so in order to protest police brutality and systemic oppression against people of color.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he told Steve Wyche of NFL Media about the decision two years ago. “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.”
Kaepernick’s peaceful protest drew ire from many, who felt that it was disrespectful to the United States and members of the military. Even President Trump weighed in with some choice expletives for players who chose to kneel. Many other players in the league supporter Kaepernick. He was a free agent and has been unable to sign with a team since. A meeting with the Seattle Seahawks soured when he would not commit to standing for the national anthem.
Kaepernick filed a lawsuit against the NFL, alleging collusion. Recently, an arbitrator decided there is merit to his claim and it appears that he may get his day in court when the evidence is presented at trial.
Other athletes tapped for the 30th anniversary campaign include Serena Williams, LeBron James, and Odell Beckham Jr.