Colin Kaepernick, social activist, and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.
A Nike endorser since 2011, Kaepernick broke the news today on Twitter by revealing the first advertisement from the upcoming campaign. A biting, visceral image, shows Colin’s face in intimate detail. Centered into a noir backdrop overlaying the intricacies of his skin, the words “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” speak in a deafening and cunning tone.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
The ad, of course, leans generously into the outcome of Kaepernick’s social injustice protest and subsequent removal from the NFL. Kaepernick famously sat during the national anthem in August 2016 and kneeled during America’s song in weeks thereafter. Other NFL players quickly and forcefully followed his lead.
In the two years since Colin’s initial peaceful protest, it’s largely believed he has been “blackballed” from the league. Kaepernick, in turn, filed a collusion grievance against the NFL in October, stating they organized an effort to keep him out of the league based on his social and political beliefs.
Nike’s restored commitment to Kaepernick seemingly works in contrast with one of their biggest business partners — the National Football League. Renewing its deal as the league’s official apparel provider back in March — an agreement that will continue through 2028 — Nike realigning with Kaep appears grossly in opposition given his very public court battle with the NFL. Yet, he’s the face of a hugely important campaign for Nike, one that will also feature LeBron James, Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., Lacey Baker, and Shaquem Griffin.
Although Kaepernick has been on the Nike roster for seven years now, he’s been visibly absent from brand advertisements for the last two. Nike seemed at a loss for what do to with Kaepernick during said period. However, as ESPN’s Darren Rovell points out, “Nike has been paying Colin Kaepernick all along.”
BREAKING: Nike had been paying Colin Kaepernick all along, waiting for the right moment. That moment is now, as he becomes the face of the company’s 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” campaign. pic.twitter.com/uccpDStbq5
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 3, 2018
His presence in the budding “Just Do It” campaign represents newness for both parties, as Kaepernick’s representatives — Mark Geragos and Ben Meiselas — reportedly worked to restructure his deal in recent months. As stated by Charles Robinson, a senior NFL reporter from Yahoo Sports, Kaep’s new deal with Nike will be on par with other top-tier football players. His “star” contract is reported to pay him in the millions of dollars per year. In addition, Colin will have his own branded collection that will include sneakers, jerseys, and shirts. It’s also worth noting that “star” contracts in the past have included a clause for royalties.
Details on Kaepernick and #Nike:
– It’s wide endorsement. He’s going to have his own branded line. Shoes, shirts, jerseys, etc. There will be Kaepernick apparel.
– Contract is a “star” deal on par with a top end #NFL player. Millions per year. Star deals also include royalties.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) September 3, 2018
While Nike should be applauded for championing Kaepernick with an extended contract and newly heightened brand visibility, interest from other sportswear brands may have thrust them into motion. Back in April, Adidas publicly stated that they had an interest in signing Colin if he played for an NFL team in the upcoming season which kicks off later this week. However, given the climate of Kaepernick’s legal battle with the league, it’s off base to assume that Adidas had any real assurance that Kaepernick would suit up in the NFL this season.
It’s actually a foregone conclusion that Kaepernick won’t play in the NFL this season. And, if you’re keeping pace, evident that he won’t play in the NFL at any point in the future. So how does Nike promote a football player who’s no longer a professional football player? That’s simple; Colin Kaepernick was never just a football player to begin with. The same way Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Serena Williams, and countless others aren’t just athletes. They are all so much more. That’s always been the driving force.