Colin Kaepernick is the face of Nike's new "Just Do It" campaign

Rosalie Gross
September 4, 2018

Nike's campaign also includes ads featuring Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr. and Seattle Seahawks rookie linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who plays professional football despite missing one hand due to complications from amniotic band syndrome as a child.

And while Kaepernick has been somewhat elusive over the past few years - he's picked his spots when it's come to speaking publicly and stepping into the spotlight - his presence remains felt in the National Football League (and across sports), even if he's not on a roster. Kaepernick and Eric Reid have both been unable to find work in the NFL because of their protests and both players have filed collusion grievances against the league, citing a conspiring to keep them out because of their practical beliefs.

ESPN has reported that Nike kept Kaepernick, who signed a sponsorship deal with the company in 2011, was on its payroll throughout the controversy of the past two years.

On Thursday, arbitrator Stephen Burbank denied the league's request to dismiss the case, which means he found sufficient evidence for the case to continue and perhaps go to trial.

People angry with Nike for making Colin Kaepernick the face of its "Just Do It" campaign have taken to social media to publicly destroy their swoosh-branded clothes and shoes.

Players would be given the option of remaining in the locker room during renditions of "The Star-Spangled Banner" but would be fined if they did not stand while on the field.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly seized on the issue.

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Shares of the shoe and apparel giant dropped about 3 percent in pre-market trading after the company announced that the unsigned free agent, who is known for kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to racial injustices, would join the company's signature campaign.

"This is a very winning, strong issue for me", Trump told Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones previous year, according to a sworn deposition Jones gave in connection with Kaepernick's lawsuit.

In some ways, however, Nike is protected from backlash.

Nike is in a fierce battle with rival Adidas to sign star athletes.

"It's a little surprising that they would take this position as the official supplier to the NFL", Burch said.

De La Hoya, now a boxing promoter, also discussed his own national anthem controversy associated with the upcoming fight between Gennady "GGG" Golovkin of Kazakhstan and Canelo Alvarez of Mexico. "Colin is not now employed by an NFL team and has no contractual obligations to the NFL", Nike spokesperson Sandra Carreon-John said.

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