Will Nike’s Colin Kaepernick Campaign Backfire?

Buying a pair of athletic shoes shouldn’t be a political act. But Nike, the world’s largest maker of athletic shoes, thinks otherwise. And it might lose customers as a result. On Thursday evening, September 6, the company aired its widely anticipated two-minute “Just Do It”-themed ad on NBC-TV during the 2018 NFL season opener narrated by Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who two years ago started the ritual “kneel-down” national anthem protests. He remains a factually-challenged moral exhibitionist who has built a cult upon the false claim that local police forces across the nation are murdering innocent blacks. The campaign might boost Nike sales in the short run, but market surveys suggest that it might not end well.

For a man whose name is radioactive around the National Football League, Colin Kaepernick’s career shift is paying off. During the 2016 exhibition season, he chose to kneel rather than stand for the pregame playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a protest against what he saw as a police pogrom against innocent blacks. The claim was patently false. Yet this moral theater quickly caught fire among the league’s black players during the regular season and beyond. Kaepernick became a hero to Social Justice Warriors, winning accolades from Sports Illustrated, Amnesty International, the National Education Association and other arbiters of public opinion. Having opted out of his contract with the 49ers after the 2016 season during which the team had compiled a 2-14 record, he has not played in the NFL since. He filed a grievance against the league last October, claiming team owners were colluding to deny him employment in retaliation for his “leadership for equality and social justice.”

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