Nike is celebrating the 30th year of its “Just Do It” slogan with a series of TV and print ads. One features Colin Kaepernick’s face with the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Naturally, previews of the ad have gone viral, and there are threats of boycotts and videos of people burning their shoes are all the rage.
This is exactly what Nike wants. This is exactly what any company wants from an advertisement. Buzz. NIKE knew the ad would be greeted negatively in many circles. It could care less.
Serena Williams, who is part of a Nike campaign celebrating her tennis career and motherhood, said Monday on Twitter, “Especially proud to be part of the NIKE family today.”
Importantly, she discussed why the work of Kaepernick and fellow blackballed NFL player Eric Reid is vital.
“I think every athlete, every human, and definitely every African American should be completely grateful and honored how Colin and Eric are doing so much more for the greater good, so to say,” Williams told reporters at the U.S. Open.
“They really use their platform in ways that is really unfathomable. I feel like they obviously have great respect from a lot of their peers, especially other athletes, people that really are looking for social change.”
LeBron James sent a copy of the ad to his followers on Twitter and will likely follow up with additional comment during the week.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for Michael Jordan to make a strong comment on the ad or the Kaepernick predicament or anything else other than Michael Jordan.
While most adults have an opinion on national anthem protests that will not be changed by an ad, protests or the POTUS, NIKE says the Kaepernick ad is aimed at teenagers.
“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” Nike vice president Gino Fisanotti told ESPN.
NIKE has enraged the NFL. It wants to put the Kaepernick/Reid unemployment behind it and national anthem protests, as well.
Just three days before the season opens on Sept. 6, Nike unleashed a firestorm that is sure to set Trump off and ignite his zealot base into action. Look for some high schools to drop Nike apparel, especially in rural communities.
Pat Tillman, the Arizona Cardinal safety who was killed in Afghanistan, is being used by some to attack Nike. They say his image should have been used.
Tragically, Tillman was killed by fellow Americans. His was a “friendly fire” death.
Tillman was also an unabashed liberal. The Army reportedly obscured findings on his death from the American public and his own family.
When the president used Tillman’s legacy to attack Kaepernick and other peaceful protesters, Tillman’s wife released a statement that read, “The very action of self-expression and the freedom to speak from one's heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for.”
On Tuesday morning, Nike stock was down more than 2 percent in early trading, and #NikeBoycott was trending on Twitter.
Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel wrote Tuesday, “Nike calculated this.”
“Nike clearly believes that making a deal with Kaepernick is worth whatever backlash ensues. Some people will burn their shoes. Some will swear off buying the swoosh.
“Nike has to figure it can make up those sales with this campaign. Or at least bolster its brand for the next couple of decades. Nike picked a side here, which it has always been willing to do. This one, though, may be its most fascinating to watch.”
Harbaugh, KU and Mizzou
If Michigan decides to can coach Jim Harbaugh after (or during) this season, you’ll hear his name linked to Kansas. You finished laughing, yet? That’s what most people do when I tell them it could happen.
In November 2016, the day after KU shocked Texas and things were looking up for the pathetic program, Dennis Dodd reported at cbssports.com that Harbaugh and the Jayhawks had been close to reaching a deal seven years earlier.
In 2009, KU Lew Perkins orchestrated the removal of successful, but troubled Mark Mangino as head coach. Harbaugh had gone 8-5 at Stanford in his third season at Stanford but had not crafted the Cardinal into a perennial Pac-12 threat yet.
“The Kansas job intrigued Harbaugh because it suited him at the time. His wife Sarah is from nearby suburban Kansas City. There is a gaggle of in-laws scattered 30 miles from the KU campus,” Dodd wrote.
Harbaugh told the San Francisco 49ers website in 2014, “There was some discussion (with Kansas.)
"It was done," a source close to the situation told CBS Sports.
Perkins didn’t go that far, but said "It was close, very close.”
Dodd wrote, “Harbaugh was so interested in Kansas at that time that he left his Stanford phone behind, so it wouldn't be tracked by the school. Meanwhile, he and (his father-in-law) Merle drove over to Lawrence to check out the facilities.”
Harbaugh would remain at Stanford and take them to the Orange Bowl the next season. He then headed to the 49ers and reached the Super Bowl. His next stop was Michigan.
After Saturday night’s 24-17 loss at Notre Dame, and annual losses to Ohio State at the close of the regular season, Harbaugh finds himself on the hot seat.
Harbaugh brought Michigan back from mediocrity in one year when he arrived – but the Wolverines can’t get over the hump. Harbaugh is known for moving on to new challenges.
And what a challenge it would be. The Jayhawks hired Turner Gill and he was fired during his third season. Charlie Weis was hired and was a disaster. He set the program back big time. KU is 3-34 under coach David Beaty, including last Saturday’s embarrassing 23-20 home loss to Nichols State. He will probably be fired next Sunday if KU loses on the road at Western Michigan.
If you’re wondering why I’m sharing this with you, there are two reasons.
First, Harbaugh would schedule Missouri in football as soon as possible. He’d want to quickly make a big splash and there would be no better way than to lead his pitiful Jayhawks to an upset over the Tigers.
Second, I turn 58 on Sept. 6 and this is a birthday present to myself. Smile.
The Reid Roundup
The Willie Taggart era at Florida State got off to a rough start on Labor Day night. The Seminoles were manhandled at home by Virginia Tech 24-3, committed five turnovers and left Taggart to say, “We played a sloppy game and that’s on all of us, starting with me.” … North Carolina A&T is a HBCU football power, but its 28-23 win over FBS-Division 1 East Carolina on Saturday has suddenly put the Aggies in the national spotlight. Weather caused the game to be suspended Saturday night and resumed Sunday afternoon. Winston-Salem Journal columnist Ed Hardin said the A&T win “sent a shockwave across the state.” … Herm Edwards had a successful debut at Arizona State. His Sun Devils trounced Texas-Arlington 49-7. They host Michigan State on Saturday. … Kevin Sumlin didn’t fare as well in his first game as Arizona’s coach. BYU upset the host Wildcats 28-23. … Adam Wainwright will return to the rotation on Monday at home against Pittsburgh. He hasn’t pitched since May. He did well in rehab starts, but I thought the Cardinals had moved beyond the sentimental stuff. … Patrick Mahomes, KC Chiefs’ young, gifted and black QB told a local radio station he prefers “Showtime” as a nickname. …Marshall Faulk’s employment with the NFL Network has officially come to an end. He and six others were suspended last December after being sued for sexual harassment. … The lack of referees for high school sports – both boys and girls - is a telling sign that dealing with fans isn’t worth the pay check and willingness to help young people play a sport they enjoy. …
Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1.