A WELL DESERVED WIN FOR KAEPERNICK!
Any questions about whether Nike might quickly back away from its decision to embrace the polarizing quarterback Colin Kaepernick amid threats of a boycott and criticism from President Trump dissipated on Wednesday when the company released a two-minute advertisement narrated by him and announced plans to have it run during the N.F.L.’s first telecast of the regular season. Greg Hughes, a spokesman for NBC Sports, confirmed that Nike had purchased airtime on Thursday’s N.F.L. game. It is a shorter, 90-second version of the ad released digitally Wednesday. The league did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nike is a major partner of the N.F.L.’s, providing the uniforms for all 32 teams and the clothing worn by everybody on an N.F.L. sideline.
The ad, called “Dream Crazy,” features Mr. Kaepernick and other star athletes in the Nike stable, including Serena Williams and LeBron James. It implores viewers to dream big, using the inspiring stories of those stars and of everyday weekend warriors who overcame illness or disability to triumph athletically.
“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” Mr. Kaepernick says over images of him watching a waving American flag projected against a building. Those words appeared in an ad that was released on Monday announcing Nike’s new partnership with Mr. Kaepernick and on a billboard of him that went up in San Francisco on Tuesday.
After initially being silent about the Nike campaign, President Trump, who has hammered the N.F.L. repeatedly for not barring players who do not stand for the national anthem, took to Twitter to criticize the company.
“Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way?” President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way? As far as the NFL is concerned, I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
By signing Mr. Kaepernick to a lucrative new endorsement contract and making him the face of an important new marketing campaign, Nike is taking a calculated risk. Nike’s core demographic — a racially diverse group of people under 35 years old — is much more likely to support protests during the national anthem than older generations.
But countless others have criticized Mr. Kaepernick and the N.F.L. The president of CBS Sports, Sean McManus, and others have blamed fan discomfort with the national anthem protests and the N.F.L.’s decision not to penalize players for on-field political protests for declining ratings.
That said, Mr. Kaepernick, once one of the league’s promising young quarterbacks, has not been able to earn a spot on an N.F.L. roster since he became a free agent after the 2016 season. Eric Reid, a well-regarded defensive back who was also a prominent member of the protest movement, is also out of work.
Both have accused N.F.L. owners of colluding to keep them out of the league. Last week, an arbitrator for the N.F.L. ruled that Mr. Kaepernick’s lawsuit on the matter could move forward.
While #BoycottNike became a trending hashtag on social media on Tuesday, there was little evidence that a serious boycott had materialized or that one was harming Nike. Shares in the company were up 30 cents on Wednesday, after falling $2.60 on Tuesday.
Nike declined to comment on Mr. Trump’s tweet.
Other prominent athletes involved in the campaign have voiced their approval of Nike’s decision to include Mr. Kaepernick.