Months After Signing A Contract Extension With The NFL, Nike Turned Around And Made Colin Kaepernick The Face Of Their Newest Ad Campaign
ProFootballTalk- At a time when the legal question of whether the NFL “just did it” regarding Colin Kaepernick and collusion is still pending, Nike has boldly followed its own three-decades-old advice.
In connection with the 30th anniversary of the iconic “Just Do It” campaign, Nike has unveiled an ad featuring Colin Kaepernick. “Believe in something,” the message superimposed over Kaepernick’s face declares. “Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
It’s a gutsy move for Nike, given that it holds the official apparel deal with the NFL. But it will be difficult for the NFL to retaliate, given that the contract runs through 2028.
You know, it's about damn time. I can't say I expected the NFL's foremost supplier of merchandise for the next decade to be the entity that waited until the ink dried to flip the script on a league that knows quite a bit about playing dirty pool in businesses other than billiards, but it actually makes quite a bit of sense now that they did. After all, as much as I love seeing the NFL force fed a taste of the same medicine they've administered in suppressing the rights of their players, it's worth noting that Nike's cold-blooded decision to push the parameters of "the customer is always right" is only as motivated by their desire to come out on the right side of history as it is to bank some profit in the process.
The NFL, at the dictatorial demands of Donald Trump, was so counterproductive in keeping Colin Kaepernick relevant that they actually made both his likeness and his message too productive for one of their most prominent affiliates to pass up. Love him or hate him, the polarizing opinions surrounding one man's choice to silently kneel on a sideline and his (former) employer's subsequent, one-sided, and - legally speaking - arguably illegal overreaction to them have made Colin Kaepernick into a pretty damn powerful spokesperson. Especially for a brand whose profit margins aren't exactly being inflated by the Uncle Fred Air Orthopedics that are selling for the low, low price of 'buy one, get one free' at Nike outlets across Middle America or under storefronts from which confederate flags fly.
In that sense, it shouldn't be all that much of a surprise that a sneaker company that's damn near synonymous with "the culture" beat a league run by greedy, old white dudes who bow before the President's bullshit to the realization that, when targeting the right (or, more accurately, left) audience, the fight for basic human rights can motivate the movement of money just as much as fabricated and forced patriotism.
The fact that said sneaker company ignored their recently extended, decade-long partnership with the defendant in giving the pariah-turned-plaintiff a massively public platform for the case he's set to make in a court of law, on the other hand, was bit of a shocker. That said, it's nothing that the NFL hasn't done in leveraging the omissions in contractually bound agreements (cough, cough...CBA's...cough, cough) to make Roger Goodell an irreproachable scapegoat as a nauseatingly protected shield for ownership.
I appreciate Nike for inciting the incineration of hundreds of dirty dad shoes (and potentially the dip-shits still wearing them) by putting their full support behind the man that did the seemingly impossible by getting someone to say "no" to a league as authoritarian as the NFL...
However, the real story here is that the strongest of arms got slow-played and pinned to the negotiating table by the type of cutthroat business tactic that they've all-but-copyrighted.
To that, I say "swoosh, bitch."