4 Sep 2018

Colin Kaepernick to be new face of Nike campaign

10:37 am on 4 September 2018

Sports apparel company Nike has chosen Colin Kaepernick as the face of their new advertising campaign.

Kaepernick, the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem as a protest against racism, will be the face of advertisements commemorating its "Just Do It" slogan's 30th anniversary, a move that could draw U.S. President Donald Trump's ire.

Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game 2016.

Colin Kaepernick #7 and Eric Reid #35 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem prior to playing the Los Angeles Rams in their NFL game 2016. Photo: AFP

The former NFL quarterback posted a black-and-white close-up of himself on Instagram and Twitter featuring the Nike logo and "Just do it" slogan as well as a quote, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."

Nike retweeted Kaepernick's post.

ESPN reported Nike's decision to use Kaepernick as part of the ad campaign.

"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," said Gino Fisanotti, a Nike vice president of brand for North America, according to ESPN.

"Colin has been a Nike athlete since 2011," said Nike spokeswoman Sandra Carreon-John. She did not respond to questions about the latest ad campaign.

Representatives for Kaepernick and the NFL did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.

Kaepernick was a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers for six years. He stirred a national controversy by taking a knee while the anthem was played before games during the National Football League's 2016 season to draw attention to police killings of black men and other issues.

The anthem protests, soon embraced by other players, raised the ire of some NFL fans and Trump, who has said he would love to see NFL owners fire football players who disrespect the American flag.

The NFL this season has adopted a rule requiring all players to stand during the anthem, although it gave them the option of staying off the field until the ceremony was over. Even so, the protests have persisted through the preseason and the NFL has said it is in discussions with the players union on the policy.

Kaepernick and another former 49ers player, Eric Reid, have not been signed by any of the NFL's 32 teams since their protests spread around the league. Both have filed collusion grievances against NFL owners.

On Thursday, arbitrator Stephen Burbank denied the league's request to dismiss the case, which means he found sufficient evidence for the case to continue and perhaps go to trial.

News of Nike's ad campaign broke just days before the first game of the NFL season on Thursday, when the controversy over pre-game protests could flare anew.

"Nike has always been and will continue to be my family's favorite shoe," wrote Twitter user @TheDionneMama.

But other reaction on Twitter was negative. "Time to throw away all my Nike crap," wrote @SportDuh 17.

Kaepernick received an enthusiastic welcome from fans at the U.S. Open's showcase tennis match between Serena and Venus Williams at the weekend when he was shown raising his fist on the big screen.