This week, Nike launched an ad campaign designed to garner maximum attention: it used unemployed former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of its 30th anniversary #JustDoIt campaign. What, exactly, has Kaepernick done athletically to earn the honor? Nothing. He’s been off the playing field since 2016. No, Kaepernick has stayed in the headlines because the protest campaign he launched by kneeling for the national anthem became a viral political issue, generating clicks and headlines and presidential debate topics.
The Nike campaign launched with a close-up, black-and-white photo of Kaepernick, accompanied by the slogan: “Believe In Something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
This is, to put it mildly, ridiculous.
First off, it’s ridiculous to suggest that believing in something is a worthwhile goal—it rather depends on what you believe in. Second, Kaepernick has sacrificed nothing. He began kneeling only once he became a backup with the San Francisco 49ers. He turned down a trade to the Denver Broncos because he refused to restructure his contract and give up money. He hasn’t been employed because he’s a team headache and because he’s not a very good quarterback (in 2016, he had one of the worst QB ratings in the league, and in 2015, he was even worse). The same folks decrying the injustice of Kaepernick lacking a quarterback job were more than happy to see Tim Tebow, a similarly less-than-average quarterback, hit the door.