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Tuesday, February 07, 2023

If you haven’t been paying attention, Nike released what could very well be the most controversial advertising campaign in the entire history of mankind on Monday.

What made this image so contentious, you might ask?

Well, it featured a face. The face belongs to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who rose to prominence in 2012 when he supplanted starter Alex Smith and guided the ‘Niners to Super Bowl XLVII, which they lost to the Ravens. He became a household name in 2016 when he protested racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem, starting a movement of players following suit.

But it wasn’t just the face. There were also words. What evil message did these words convey?

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Pretty awful stuff, right? Kids could see that! Could you imagine an entire generation of children being taught to stand up for their convictions in the face of adversity?

I know you’re probably alarmed. But worry not, concerned citizen, for several brave souls are already taking aim at Nike’s corporate empire with the strong arm of capitalism.

These heroes destroy or cover the logos on all of their Nike merchandise. Merchandise which, of course, they’ve already paid for.

But this robs Nike – a company worth nearly $30 billion that is the exclusive apparel provider of the National Football League – of some much-needed publicity.

Surely its doom is imminent.

But that could take some time, and the NFL season just kicked off Thursday night. Thirty teams will be in action this weekend, which means the potential for over 1,500 players kneeling during the national anthem.

Unless we act fast.

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I guess we could try listening to them. Like, actually listening to them. We could accept the possibility that others may have different life experiences than our own, and that if there’s even the smallest grain of truth in what the players are saying, it’s worth hearing them out.

No, that won’t work. Listening could lead to action. And action is hard.

I suppose the easiest way to get players to stop kneeling during the anthem would be to stop talking about it entirely. Think about it. Why keep protesting if nobody’s paying attention? All it would take is a little self-control.

Were you minding your own business when a nefarious NFL player had the audacity to kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” on YOUR television screen? Thinking about writing a paragraph on Facebook with your specific and definitely original opinions on the matter just so everyone you went to high school with can know how you really feel? Instead of doing that, don’t.

Considering going on Instagram to show off your clean Nike hoodie with a gray rectangle of duct tape covering the trademark swoosh, in order to prove to the whole world that you’re one of those aforementioned brave souls? Think again.

As long as everyone is talking about players kneeling, players will continue to kneel.

Because if everyone’s talking about it, it’s working.

 

Tyler Nettuno is a sports writer. You can follow him on Twitter @TylerNettuno or contact him at tnettuno@alligator.org.

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