On Thursday night, during the NFL’s first game of the year between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons, Nike aired a commercial during the third quarter that would give any sports fan chills. It catered to everyone’s dreams of becoming the best ever, playing under the lights and going down in history.
At the end of the commercial, the camera shows Colin Kaepernick standing on a busy city block, and as the camera pans around to show his face, the narration says, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” To end the ad, the camera is back on Kaepernick, this time walking down the block, and he ends the ad with the line, “So don’t ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if they’re crazy enough.”
No matter how many times I watch the ad, it never gets old, as Nike did an amazing job showing people overcoming adversity to do amazing things, like a young wrestler with no legs, a female boxer wearing a hijab and a young girl in a wheelchair playing basketball.
Despite all these inspirational images Nike has given, some people have focused on the fact that Kaepernick is the predominant figure in the whole ad campaign. The billboards that went up around the country feature a picture of Kaepernick’s face overlaid with the “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” quote.
People across the country were outraged at the ad and proceeded to post videos and pictures to social media in which they were burning Nike shoes and cutting off the Nike logos on shirts and socks and every type of product Nike makes. The mayor of Kenner, La. even banned the purchase of Nike products by the city’s recreation departments and booster clubs.
This ad campaign by Nike is bigger than sports and bigger than politics. It is about not letting anything stop you or hold you back and striving to achieve the greatest you possible. That message applies to everyone, whether it be sports, school or even a job. Go out, and do everything you can today to be the best you possible.
The people who see Kaepernick and are immediately up in arms are missing the bigger picture. Not once in any of the ads was kneeling or the national anthem mentioned or shown, because that is not what Nike is trying to say. The reason Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem is because he saw inequality in the country and wanted to see change.
It is impossible to disagree with Kaepernick’s assessment, and he has stuck by his beliefs. This is the second season Kaepernick has not been on a team to start the year, and he has filed a case against the NFL accusing them of colluding against him. At the end of August, an arbitrator determined there was enough evidence against the NFL for the case to go to full trial.
Kaepernick definitely has the skills to play in the NFL. In his last season, his passer rating was within one point of his 2013 passer rating, when he led the San Francisco 49ers to a 12-4 record and a spot in the NFC Championship game. He also averaged more rushing yards per attempt than he had his entire career, so he was definitely not the one to blame for the 49ers dismal 2-14 record.
Some people who have criticized the Nike campaign have claimed it is unfair to say that Kaepernick has “sacrificed everything.” I say it is unfair to him to say that he has sacrificed anything less than everything. He was one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the League and was in the prime of his career when all of this controversy came raining down on him.
The Seattle Seahawks scheduled a workout for Kaepernick in April of this year. However, before the workout, they asked Kaepernick if he would continue to kneel during the anthem. Kaepernick responded that he was focused on football and would not agree to any preconditions when it came to the anthem. Shortly after, the Seahawks cancelled the workout, and Kaepernick has not had any other workouts with teams since.
This incident just shows Kaepernick is the perfect person to headline this new Nike ad campaign. He has had to take so much criticism for his beliefs, and it has taken so much away from him, yet it has not caused him to back down one inch from what he believes in.
In the end, we should all appreciate this ad campaign for the hope it gives the next generation of sports superstars, and we should listen to it ourselves, because the message transcends any political spectrum.