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Kaepernick inclusion in Nike campaign creating backlash

By The Sports Xchange
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be part of a new advertising campaign from Nike. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/573f881ec260c1ed2eaebf687786339d/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be part of a new advertising campaign from Nike. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

Colin Kaepernick is one of the prominent faces of a new Nike campaign meant to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the brand's "Just Do It" motto.

But it's not happening without some backlash.

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The free-agent quarterback, who is suing NFL owners for allegedly colluding to keep him out of the league, last played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016.

The new ad features the message: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything." The words are posted with white letters against the backdrop of a black-and-white portrait of Kaepernick.

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The addition of Kaepernick, who started a movement in 2016 to kneel during the national anthem as a protest to perceived police brutality against African-Americans and racial inequality, has created a stir on social media. Some people have been posting pictures and videos of them burning or defacing Nike merchandise, with some claiming they will switch allegiances to the competition.

Country singer John Rich was among those protesting Nike's Kaepernick decision.

Also, the National Association of Police Organizations has sent Nike a letter of protest and called for a boycott of Nike merchandise, according to a TMZ report.

Nike explained its decision to include Kaepernick in the latest campaign.

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"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," Gino Fisanotti, Nike's vice president of brand for North America, told ESPN.

Kaepernick was signed by Nike in 2011, although he has not been showcased in the past two years. He joined New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin, tennis superstar Serena Williams, four-time NBA MVP LeBron James and skateboarder Lacey Baker in the "Just Do It" campaign.

"We wanted to energize its meaning and introduce 'Just Do It' to a new generation of athletes," said Fisanotti, who noted the new campaign is meant to specifically target 15- to 17-year olds.

Nike is the NFL's official apparel sponsor and manufactures the jerseys and game day apparel worn by all 32 franchises.

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Arbitrator Stephen Burbank ruled against the NFL last week in the league's bid for a summary judgment.

In six NFL seasons, Kaepernick has passed for 12,271 yards with 72 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He added another 2,300 yards and 13 scores on the ground.

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