Just Did It

MIKE MORBECK | PHOTO COURTESY
Kaepernick warming up before a 2012 game.

Well, someone had to write about this. This should come to no surprise given what Colin Kaepernick has protested in the past.

For those who are unaware of the situation, Nike included Kaepernick in its 30th anniversary ad campaign of the iconic “Just Do It” slogan. The headline over Kaepernick’s face reads: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” This is a reference to when Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem in a 2016 preseason game.

It all started when he sat down during the national anthem at the beginning of a 2016 preseason game. It was all over the news the next day and consistently talked about during that week. He did this to protest, saying at the time: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” That was only the first sentence of what he said, but that pretty much sums up his point. The next game, he switched from sitting during the anthem to kneeling. Again, he had a reason for this. He said his decision to kneel was an attempt to show more respect to former and current U.S. military members while still protesting during the anthem. This change came after consulting with former U.S. Army Green Beret Nate Boyer. He used the shootings of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott as examples for his actions, stating: “This is a perfect example of what this is about.” That shooting happened a few weeks after the national anthem situation.

The whole situation boosted Kaepernick’s declining popularity status. His jersey became the top-selling jersey on the NFL’s official shop website. However, there was an NFL fan poll taken at the beginning of the 2016 season, and, to nobody’s surprise, Kaepernick was voted the most disliked player in the NFL. This was possibly a lead contributing factor to the significant drop in television ratings for the NFL. Kaepernick also received many death threats. I guess all publicity isn’t necessarily good publicity.

In 2017, it seemed as if more people were beginning to take Kaepernick’s side. Pro Football Hall of Famer and civil rights activist Jim Brown was all in on what Kaepernick was doing. He said he “wants to be in (Kaepernick’s) corner.” This suggests he appreciated Kaepernick’s courage and bravery.

That same year, President Donald Trump sent many tweets. The tweets advocated that NFL players should be either fired or suspended if they fail to stand up for the national anthem. Players knelt, sat down, locked arms or even stayed in the locker room during the anthem to protest Trump’s statements.

It’s one thing to make a statement and stand up for what you believe it, even if it’s as serious as kneeling during the national anthem. However, when you inspire the whole league to do the same thing, it can become a problem. It’s America. We’re not perfect, and no country is and will ever be. I understand we have done some controversial things in the past, especially in recent years, but there are men and women who have sacrificed everything for this country. Despite all the terrible things that have happened, the least we could do is stand up for them to show support.

All in all, I think it’s great that Kaepernick stood up (well, actually sat down) for what he believed in, but players should still be obligated at the very least to stand for the national anthem.

This has put Kaepernick in the current position he is in, however. He has been a free agent since March 2017 despite possibly still having some gas left in the tank. Most, including myself, believe he is a free agent because of all these controversies involving him. Others say it’s due to his game performance declining and old age. (He was only 29 at the start of the 2017 season and still didn’t get signed, so I don’t buy the old age excuse). I think it’s dumb that nobody signed him given what he has done in the past. The Cleveland Browns should have just swallowed their pride and signed him instead of going 0-16. Who knows if he would have changed much, but they may have been able to pull off a couple wins with Kaepernick at quarterback instead of DeShone Kizer.

But let’s get back to the Nike ad. I absolutely love the two-minute commercial they came out with Kaepernick as the narrator. It’s inspirational and makes people think beyond just sports. It sends a message that no dream is crazy and that anything can be achieved. Very well done, I must say. I would highly recommend giving it a watch.

Nike could not have come up with a better headline. “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” It perfectly describes what Kaepernick has done over the past two years. Although I liked Kaepernick more when he was tearing up the Packers in the playoffs years ago, you have to admire his courage and willingness to stand up.

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