Posts Tagged ‘Colin’

Opinion // Colin Kaepernick’s Nike Collection Could Be the Next Livestrong

words // Darren Griffin:

Two years ago, during one of the most trying periods in modern American history, Colin Kaepernick became the most controversial black man in America. It began with a series of peaceful protests when the San Francisco 49ers quarterback sat for the national anthem during two preseason games. For the fourth and final preseason game that season, Kaepernick famously took a knee. He was joined by teammate Eric Reid.

Kaepernick soon after explained his noble actions. He very clearly stated that his aim was to bring awareness to the marginalization of black people in America, the injustices they face, and the unarmed African-American men who were being shot and killed by the police with no retribution.

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick stated. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The series of events that followed, no one truly expected. NFL players from other teams and even athletes in a variety of sports began to follow his lead, hoping to bring awareness to police killings of unarmed black men. An alternate narrative steered by Colin’s detractors soon began to shift public opinion. He was villainized as disrespecting the flag, his country, and the many men and women in the armed forces who bravely risk their lives to keep it safe.

His protest became a political conversation instead of a civil rights plead. And Kaepernick, after opting out of his Niners contract in 2017 to become a free agent, wouldn’t be signed by another NFL team. He is still without work in the NFL.

Now, more than two years since that first kneel — and subsequent stages of public hiatus — Colin’s reemergence on the global stage through Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign is almost as controversial as his initial protest. Quickly and expectedly, Colin is again the most talked about and divisive black man in America. It’s a space he’s grown familiar with. And, to his credit, one he’s learned to thrive within.

Nike, too, is no stranger to global controversy. Throughout the decades, many of their most successful athletes have been the most disruptive. They stuck by Tiger Woods during his brand tarnishing infidelity scandal. They revived Michael Vick’s endorsement deal after he served time in prison for animal cruelty, due to his involvement in a dogfighting ring. And of course, there was Lance Armstrong, whom Nike eventually divested from after his admission of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Before Nike set a course to end its relationship with Armstrong and his Livestrong brand in 2013, it was a partnership marked by great success. Nike would manufacture sneakers, apparel, and accessories for Livestrong as its largest corporate backer. And while the more tangible items served as the main course, the Livestrong rubber bracelet became a cultural phenomenon all on its own.

Nike and Livestrong sold over 87 million yellow rubber bracelets in their fight to bring awareness and provide support to cancer patients. At the cost of just $ 1 dollar, the bright yellow bracelet allowed consumers to become part of something bigger than themselves — part of the change and hopefully, one day, the solution.

With proceeds from the ubiquitous wristwear, Livestrong, by way of Nike, not only thrived fiscally but helped unite the cancer community that Armstrong was part of when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996. The bracelet grew into something neither expected; it became a cultural signifier, a symbol of togetherness, perseverance, and our collective ability to overcome life’s seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

For many people, black and otherwise, Colin’s sacrifice is as great an accomplishment as Lance overcoming cancer and subsequently winning his sixth Tour de France. Kaepernick’s reported Nike collection could, in part, act as the new Livestrong bracelet, bringing togetherness to a nation at odds. Although detractors of Kaepernick have now become protesters of Nike (including President Trump) by proxy, both still appear to thrive in the midst of chaos.

“Kaepernick currently wields the same sword Muhammed Ali, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar once cut with.”

Since revealing Kaepernick as the lead athlete in its aforementioned “Just Do It” campaign, Nike has seen millions in publicity value. When considering their target demographic, people between ages 18 to 34, Kaepernick’s ad has been met with a more than favorable response. It’s not all positive, though. A truth Nike all but expected.

Kaepernick would appear to be the mirror opposite of, say, LeBron James, a vocal leader in the black community yet not nearly as divisive as Colin. But Nike didn’t become Nike by sidestepping controversy. Calculated risks, by in large, make them the most valuable sportswear company in the world. Yet, truth be told, Colin isn’t much of a risk at all; he’s actually really good business, as time has proven.

He was good business when he reached the Super Bowl in just his third NFL season. He was good business when he kneeled and galvanized a nation. He was good business when his jersey was the NFL’s best-seller. He was good business when GQ Magazine named him its Citizen of the Year, placing Colin on their most important cover of the year. He’s still good business today as the face of Nike’s budding campaign and its moving “Dream Crazy” commercial. An ad that will air tonight during the NFL season opener, while Kaepernick is currently fighting the league in court in an ongoing collusion case.

The commercial, which Nike premiered earlier this week before its national television debut later tonight, is narrated by Kaepernick. The inspirational clip features a wealth of empowering sports stories, including those of LeBron James, Serena Williams, and Seattle Seahawks starting linebacker Shaquem Griffin. Kaepernick appears near the ad’s crescendo, closing the statement piece with his signature afro paired with a calming tan trench coat. A quick transition cuts to a city street in the dark of night, lit up by passing cars and images of youth athletes reflecting off skyscrapers. The clip is punctuated with the words, “It’s only crazy until you do it. Just do it.”

The contrast in Nike airing “Dream Crazy” during the NFL season opener parallels their brand mantra. To greater effect, it proves why Kaepernick’s signature collection could have the same impact as Livestrong. Whether it be through a statement, theme, or something similar to a Livestrong bracelet or another towering accessory, the Nike Fuelband, Kaepernick’s cause is a rallying cry ripe for support. As Lance’s was years ago.

Much like how Nike helped to further cancer research and bring hope to a community of survivors through the Livestrong band, both through pure cash donations and in providing a symbol of unity through that simple rubberized wristband, here’s to hoping that Kaepernick and the brand will build upon their message of equality, and put forth a plan of community activations from proceeds from the inevitable Kaepernick-backed product capsules.

There’s a crystalized complexity in Nike’s public championing of the NFL’s assumed nemesis. By the numbers, though, the league has far more naysayers than Nike and Kaepernick. Many of whom are African-Americans, which in turn places them squarely on Team Kaep. Ready and willing to rally behind a cause that places an emphasis on their civil liberties and equality, Nike may be in their most opportunistic cultural position since Livestrong.

Even as the most controversial black figure in America today, Colin is the right man for this job.

Kaepernick currently wields the same sword Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar once cut with. And while there can certainly be a negative connotation when comparing what Kaepernick can do to what Armstrong did before his fall from grace, there’s no scandal in fighting for equal rights, sacrificing oneself for the good of many, and using your platform to affect change. Colin himself may not be untouchable. But his cause, his cause may be.

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick

 

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Colin Kaepernick is the Face of Nike’s 30th Anniversary “Just Do It” Campaign, Signature Collection Also in the Works

Colin Kaepernick, social activist, and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is the face of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.

A Nike endorser since 2011, Kaepernick broke the news today on Twitter by revealing the first advertisement from the upcoming campaign. A biting, visceral image, shows Colin’s face in intimate detail. Centered into a noir backdrop overlaying the intricacies of his skin, the words “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything” speak in a deafening and cunning tone.

The ad, of course, leans generously into the outcome of Kaepernick’s social injustice protest and subsequent removal from the NFL. Kaepernick famously sat during the national anthem in August 2016 and kneeled during America’s song in weeks thereafter. Other NFL players quickly and forcefully followed his lead.

In the two years since Colin’s initial peaceful protest, it’s largely believed he has been “blackballed” from the league. Kaepernick, in turn, filed a collusion grievance against the NFL in October, stating they organized an effort to keep him out of the league based on his social and political beliefs.

Nike’s restored commitment to Kaepernick seemingly works in contrast with one of their biggest business partners — the National Football League. Renewing its deal as the league’s official apparel provider back in March — an agreement that will continue through 2028 — Nike realigning with Kaep appears grossly in opposition given his very public court battle with the NFL. Yet, he’s the face of a hugely important campaign for Nike, one that will also feature LeBron James, Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., Lacey Baker, and Shaquem Griffin.

Although Kaepernick has been on the Nike roster for seven years now, he’s been visibly absent from brand advertisements for the last two. Nike seemed at a loss for what do to with Kaepernick during said period. However, as ESPN’s Darren Rovell points out, “Nike has been paying Colin Kaepernick all along.”

His presence in the budding “Just Do It” campaign represents newness for both parties, as Kaepernick’s representatives — Mark Geragos and Ben Meiselas — reportedly worked to restructure his deal in recent months. As stated by Charles Robinson, a senior NFL reporter from Yahoo Sports, Kaep’s new deal with Nike will be on par with other top-tier football players. His “star” contract is reported to pay him in the millions of dollars per year. In addition, Colin will have his own branded collection that will include sneakers, jerseys, and shirts. It’s also worth noting that “star” contracts in the past have included a clause for royalties.

While Nike should be applauded for championing Kaepernick with an extended contract and newly heightened brand visibility, interest from other sportswear brands may have thrust them into motion. Back in April, Adidas publicly stated that they had an interest in signing Colin if he played for an NFL team in the upcoming season which kicks off later this week. However, given the climate of Kaepernick’s legal battle with the league, it’s off base to assume that Adidas had any real assurance that Kaepernick would suit up in the NFL this season.

It’s actually a foregone conclusion that Kaepernick won’t play in the NFL this season. And, if you’re keeping pace, evident that he won’t play in the NFL at any point in the future. So how does Nike promote a football player who’s no longer a professional football player? That’s simple; Colin Kaepernick was never just a football player to begin with. The same way Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Serena Williams, and countless others aren’t just athletes. They are all so much more. That’s always been the driving force.

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Adidas Wants to Sign Colin Kaepernick if He Plays in the NFL Next Season

Colin Kaepernick‘s road back to the NFL has been one paved with roadblocks. Following the kneel that shook the league and the public consciousness at its foundation, Kaepernick has with great certainty been blocked from returning to the National Football League. Despite his formidable talent, past successes, and lesser quarterback signings since he took his stand against racial injustice and police brutality at the hands of blacks in 2016, the former San Francisco 49ers QB has been without work in the league he dominated not that long ago.

But where there’s a will there’s a way, and if that will is for Colin to return to the NFL next season, adidas would be first in line to sign him.

“If he signs on a team, we would definitely want to sign him,” said Mark King, adidas North America President/CEO, at Arizona State University’s Global Sport Summit per a report from AZ Central.

King went on to say that he doesn’t want to come off as “taking advantage of this noise or interest that he had generated.” He does however believe in athletes sparking change and leading their own revolutions. “If they’re an activist in a way that brings attention to something that moves the world forward, even if there’s controversy at that moment, we’re really interested in those athletes because I think it represents the world today.”

Kaepernick, though, in spite of this endorsement offer, remains far from signing with an NFL team. Since 2016, offers and interest have been all but absent. That is until just recently, when the Seattle Seahawks wanted to bring Kaepernick in for an interview and subsequent workout. Unfortunately, the meeting was postponed indefinitely when Colin couldn’t commit to discontinuing his pregame protest.

Kaepernick was the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem in 2016. Since that time, many other players – both black and otherwise – have followed his lead.

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Colin Farrell in London

Colin Farrell in London

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