Kaepernick scores big ad deal with Nike though he’s not in NFL
Colin Kaepernick during an NFL game, Nov. 27, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. | Tom DiPace / AP

Colin Kaepernick has a new deal with Nike, even without having a job in the NFL.

Kaepernick’s attorney, Mark Geragos, made the announcement on Twitter, calling the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback an “All American Icon” and crediting attorney Ben Meiselas for getting the deal done. Kaepernick also posted a Nike ad featuring his face and wrote: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.”

Kaepernick already had a deal with Nike that was set to expire, but it was renegotiated into a multi-year deal to make him one of the faces of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, according to a person familiar with the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Nike hasn’t officially announced the contract.

The source says Nike will feature Kaepernick on several platforms, including billboards, television commercials, and online ads. Nike also will create an apparel line for Kaepernick and contribute to his Know Your Rights charity. The deal puts Kaepernick in the top bracket of NFL players with Nike.

The NFL and Nike extended their partnership in March to run through 2028. Nike provides all NFL teams with game-day uniforms and sideline apparel that bears the swoosh logo.

Last week, Kaepernick was handed a legal win in his grievance against the NFL and team owners when NFL-NFLPA arbitrator Stephen B. Burbank ruled his collusion grievance could move forward to trial.

Kaepernick argues the NFL and team owners colluded to keep him out of the league as retaliation for his national anthem protest activity.

In a perfect world, this ad campaign would be celebrated and seen as a way to push conversations—on both sides—about the national anthem forward. Eventually it would lead to a public understanding that Kaepernick’s action was not a protest against the flag, but about social injustices needing to be addressed.

One of the new Nike ads featuring Colin Kaepernick. | Colin Kaepernick / Twitter

Ah, but a perfect world doesn’t exist.

And once the Kaepernick-Nike partnership announcement went viral, the racist outrage began.

Country musician John Rich took to Twitter two hours later, posting a photo of his band’s sound man, a former Marine, showing off his Nike swoosh socks being cut up. “Get ready @Nike multiply that by the millions,” Rich tweeted.

Dozens of other videos hit social media showing users burning their Nike products, tearing them up, or throwing them in the trash.

“First the @NFL forces me to choose between my favorite sport and my country. I chose country. Then @Nike forces me to choose between my favorite shoes and my country. Since when did the American Flag and the National Anthem become offensive?” tweeted user Sean Clancy.

On the other side, concern about the partnership has been discussed online, given Nike’s use of cheap (slave) labor to make their products, which are then sold for hundreds of dollars.

Many fear this corporate partnership will essentially silence Kaepernick and destroy the movement he started in 2016.

No doubt this will be a complicated partnership to navigate, but it will provide Kaepernick with income to fund his social justice work and future initiatives.

“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 on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the NFLPA and NFL continue discussions about the league’s revised national anthem policy adopted in May, both sides hoping to reach an agreeable resolution, while Kaepernick, the league, and team owners prepare for an arbitration hearing later this year.

This story, originally reported by AP, was supplemented with material by People’s World.


Rob Maaddi
Rob Maaddi

Rob Maaddi is Associated Press NFL Writer, Eagles/Phillies beat writer, MLB Hall of Fame voter.

Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.