Nike Goes Long on Kaepernick and America's Self-Hatred

Nike, the world's leading athletic footwear and apparel brand, recently made Colin Kaepernick the face most identifiable with the company after it released an ad with his picture, captioned: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."  Kaepernick utters those very words in Nike's new commercial, which depicts him staring reverently at the American flag.

The ad campaign seeks to present Kaepernick as a patriot who loves America, in spite of his having become a victim of its intolerance. 

Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention, however, knows that nothing could be further from the truth.

First of all, as someone who watched the guy play for years, I take issue with the Nike's choice to nourish this ridiculous myth that Kaepernick somehow wasn't allowed to reach his peak athletic greatness in the NFL because he chose to take center stage as a Black Lives Matter protestor.

The unspoken truth in this campaign is that Kaepernick was just not a very good quarterback by NFL standards.  Yes, he took over for an injured Alex Smith in 2012 to lead the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl.  After that, however, he fell hard from that early and short-lived pinnacle in his career.  In what you might call his three-season heyday of 2012-2014, he did manage to rack up an incredible 1,500+ rushing yards in San Francisco's read-option scheme.  Yet even in these, his very best years, he was still one of "the league's least-accurate passers," according to Kevin Seifert at ESPN. 

In 2015 and 2016, he ranked 35th in off-target passing percentage (22.6%) and 32nd in completion percentage (59.1%).  These numbers are nothing short of abysmal.

Unsurprisingly, the beginning of the 2017 NFL season found him as a 29-year-old free agent, and all but washed up as an NFL starter.  "There's no more important attribute for a quarterback than accuracy, especially for a free agent who is shopping himself to teams with various schemes," Seifert writes. 

In short, protest or no protest, Kaepernick would likely be a backup today, at best.  Just as he was a backup when he first decided to kneel for the National Anthem in 2016.

Is that the "everything" that he "sacrificed?"

And what did Kaepernick "believe" so fervently that he "sacrificed" all of that mediocrity to promote it? 

He proudly refused "to stand up and show pride" in the American flag, because America is nothing more, in his mind, than "a country that oppresses black people and people of color."  He believes that police officers are pigs (if we are to believe his socks represent his beliefs) who stalk the streets at night looking to maim and murder black people for no reason at all.  He praised mass-murderer and Communist Fidel Castro who made slaves of the Cuban people, while he enjoys the free speech rights allowing him to become millions of dollars richer via Nike endorsements. 

Perhaps the best indication of his deeper beliefs occurred back in November of 2016, when he invoked radical Black Panther ideology, hosting a "Black Panther-inspired youth camp" in which campers wore a T-shirt with "10 rights listed on the back that organizers said every child of color should know."  These "10 rights" were "inspired by the popular Ten-Point Program created by the Black Panther Party," which, at that time, had just "celebrated its 50th anniversary."

The Washington Times reports this all very nonchalantly.  But what some of us know, though the general public may not, is that the Ten-Point Program he pressed upon those children was a racist call for revolutionary socialism and violence against White Americans.  Among these Ten Points is a suggestion that "the federal government has the obligation to give every man employment or guaranteed income."  If the "White American businessman will not give full employment, then the means of production must be taken from the businessman and placed in the community."

These points also include the demand that black men are to be exempt from military service so as not to "be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government" and a demand that "all Black people should be released from the many jails and prisons" because they have all, ostensibly, been wrongfully been imprisoned due to the color of their skin.

All of that militant radicalism and America-hatred is what Colin Kaepernick believes so fervently that he bravely gave up a few more years of being a backup in the NFL to promote it.

I have no idea how Nike's new ad campaign will fare in a business sense.  Marketing data undoubtedly suggest that younger demographics may respond well to this campaign, and it may yield increased revenues for the company.

Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, told Tucker Carlson on Wednesday that, "as a shareholder, I like the move.  Everyone's talking about it, it makes [Nike] relevant." 

Carlson went on to say, "So you think they're going to gain more from people who are "fighting the power" with millionaire Colin Kaepernick than they will lose from people like me, who are, like, "I'm New Balance from here on out?""

Portnoy chides Carlson by saying, "I'd like to see the pair of Nikes you wore, 'cause I'm willing to bet they're not that trendy, not that hip."

Nike's almost certainly thinking the same thing.  But consider that, perhaps, Portnoy and Nike are missing a key factor here. 

Who often buys the products, after all?

Take me, for instance.  I'm a husband, and dad of two, in my thirties.  I'd never suggest that I'm trendy or hip, and no, I don't wear the most expensive Nike sneakers every day. 

However, I do own two pair of Nike cross-trainers that I regularly wear to the gym.  In fact, I think I've bought (or have had bought for me) a pair of Nike sneakers every year for as long as I can remember. 

And don't get me started about the gear.  My family and I own countless shirts, pairs of shorts and wind pants, hats, etc. that bear Nike's trademark Swoosh.  And I think I can safely say that I have, for years, annually spent at least $3-400 on Nike shoes and gear for me, my children, or as birthday or Christmas gifts for family members.

But I'm not going to buy Nike anything for myself, my kids, or anyone else as long as Kaepernick remains a face of the brand.  I'd wager I'm not alone in that. 

Nike's certainly free to alienate unhip thirty-somethings like me.  Maybe that's part of their good business move, I guess.  Time will tell.  But if I were a betting man, I'd bet that the move might yield a lot of grandparents, parents, and generally less-hip-older folks (you know, people with money) who have historically bought their product who will, in the future, choose to buy different products because of this stupid, tone-deaf marketing campaign celebrating a militant, mediocre sports figure who clearly and proudly hates everything for which America stands.

William Sullivan blogs at Political Palaver and can be followed on Twitter.

Nike, the world's leading athletic footwear and apparel brand, recently made Colin Kaepernick the face most identifiable with the company after it released an ad with his picture, captioned: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."  Kaepernick utters those very words in Nike's new commercial, which depicts him staring reverently at the American flag.

The ad campaign seeks to present Kaepernick as a patriot who loves America, in spite of his having become a victim of its intolerance. 

Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention, however, knows that nothing could be further from the truth.

First of all, as someone who watched the guy play for years, I take issue with the Nike's choice to nourish this ridiculous myth that Kaepernick somehow wasn't allowed to reach his peak athletic greatness in the NFL because he chose to take center stage as a Black Lives Matter protestor.

The unspoken truth in this campaign is that Kaepernick was just not a very good quarterback by NFL standards.  Yes, he took over for an injured Alex Smith in 2012 to lead the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl.  After that, however, he fell hard from that early and short-lived pinnacle in his career.  In what you might call his three-season heyday of 2012-2014, he did manage to rack up an incredible 1,500+ rushing yards in San Francisco's read-option scheme.  Yet even in these, his very best years, he was still one of "the league's least-accurate passers," according to Kevin Seifert at ESPN. 

In 2015 and 2016, he ranked 35th in off-target passing percentage (22.6%) and 32nd in completion percentage (59.1%).  These numbers are nothing short of abysmal.

Unsurprisingly, the beginning of the 2017 NFL season found him as a 29-year-old free agent, and all but washed up as an NFL starter.  "There's no more important attribute for a quarterback than accuracy, especially for a free agent who is shopping himself to teams with various schemes," Seifert writes. 

In short, protest or no protest, Kaepernick would likely be a backup today, at best.  Just as he was a backup when he first decided to kneel for the National Anthem in 2016.

Is that the "everything" that he "sacrificed?"

And what did Kaepernick "believe" so fervently that he "sacrificed" all of that mediocrity to promote it? 

He proudly refused "to stand up and show pride" in the American flag, because America is nothing more, in his mind, than "a country that oppresses black people and people of color."  He believes that police officers are pigs (if we are to believe his socks represent his beliefs) who stalk the streets at night looking to maim and murder black people for no reason at all.  He praised mass-murderer and Communist Fidel Castro who made slaves of the Cuban people, while he enjoys the free speech rights allowing him to become millions of dollars richer via Nike endorsements. 

Perhaps the best indication of his deeper beliefs occurred back in November of 2016, when he invoked radical Black Panther ideology, hosting a "Black Panther-inspired youth camp" in which campers wore a T-shirt with "10 rights listed on the back that organizers said every child of color should know."  These "10 rights" were "inspired by the popular Ten-Point Program created by the Black Panther Party," which, at that time, had just "celebrated its 50th anniversary."

The Washington Times reports this all very nonchalantly.  But what some of us know, though the general public may not, is that the Ten-Point Program he pressed upon those children was a racist call for revolutionary socialism and violence against White Americans.  Among these Ten Points is a suggestion that "the federal government has the obligation to give every man employment or guaranteed income."  If the "White American businessman will not give full employment, then the means of production must be taken from the businessman and placed in the community."

These points also include the demand that black men are to be exempt from military service so as not to "be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government" and a demand that "all Black people should be released from the many jails and prisons" because they have all, ostensibly, been wrongfully been imprisoned due to the color of their skin.

All of that militant radicalism and America-hatred is what Colin Kaepernick believes so fervently that he bravely gave up a few more years of being a backup in the NFL to promote it.

I have no idea how Nike's new ad campaign will fare in a business sense.  Marketing data undoubtedly suggest that younger demographics may respond well to this campaign, and it may yield increased revenues for the company.

Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, told Tucker Carlson on Wednesday that, "as a shareholder, I like the move.  Everyone's talking about it, it makes [Nike] relevant." 

Carlson went on to say, "So you think they're going to gain more from people who are "fighting the power" with millionaire Colin Kaepernick than they will lose from people like me, who are, like, "I'm New Balance from here on out?""

Portnoy chides Carlson by saying, "I'd like to see the pair of Nikes you wore, 'cause I'm willing to bet they're not that trendy, not that hip."

Nike's almost certainly thinking the same thing.  But consider that, perhaps, Portnoy and Nike are missing a key factor here. 

Who often buys the products, after all?

Take me, for instance.  I'm a husband, and dad of two, in my thirties.  I'd never suggest that I'm trendy or hip, and no, I don't wear the most expensive Nike sneakers every day. 

However, I do own two pair of Nike cross-trainers that I regularly wear to the gym.  In fact, I think I've bought (or have had bought for me) a pair of Nike sneakers every year for as long as I can remember. 

And don't get me started about the gear.  My family and I own countless shirts, pairs of shorts and wind pants, hats, etc. that bear Nike's trademark Swoosh.  And I think I can safely say that I have, for years, annually spent at least $3-400 on Nike shoes and gear for me, my children, or as birthday or Christmas gifts for family members.

But I'm not going to buy Nike anything for myself, my kids, or anyone else as long as Kaepernick remains a face of the brand.  I'd wager I'm not alone in that. 

Nike's certainly free to alienate unhip thirty-somethings like me.  Maybe that's part of their good business move, I guess.  Time will tell.  But if I were a betting man, I'd bet that the move might yield a lot of grandparents, parents, and generally less-hip-older folks (you know, people with money) who have historically bought their product who will, in the future, choose to buy different products because of this stupid, tone-deaf marketing campaign celebrating a militant, mediocre sports figure who clearly and proudly hates everything for which America stands.

William Sullivan blogs at Political Palaver and can be followed on Twitter.