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The National Football League on Tuesday responded to Nike’s newest Just Do It campaign, which is centered on former star quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The announcement of the new series of ads and products from the partner company to the NFL threw gasoline on an already robust firestorm that has polarized the nation.
“The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity. We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities,” Jocelyn Moore, the NFL’s executive vp communications and public affairs, said in a statement. “The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”
Kaepernick is currently suing the NFL, accusing the 32 owners of collusion to keep him off a team after he began kneeling during the National Anthem.
Kaepernick has been a Nike athlete since 2011, but he has not played on an NFL team since 2016.
The quarterback began kneeling during the National Anthem to protest African-American inequality in America. Not long after, other pro football players also started to take a knee, not against the American flag itself, but against the treatment of black men and women, specifically at the hands of police officers. However, Kaepernick created even more turmoil when he wore socks with pigs dressed as police officers.
Social media was alive almost immediately after the new Nike campaign was announced, with a mixture of those who loved the move by Nike and supported it and others who hated the ad and called for a boycott of the “anti-American” business.
President Donald Trump has made the protest action one of his main talking points, going so far as to call any player who kneels a “son of a bitch” and demanding they be fired. Through his campaign, he also has blasted networks for announcing they would not air the anthem portion of the pregame. That is the standard for most, unless it is a special circumstance. As of Tuesday afternoon, Trump had yet to weigh in publicly on the Nike development.
Last season, as the debate over protesting was burning ever hotter, the league and the NFLPA defended the right for those who wanted to protest peacefully.
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