Last night was the first game of the new NFL season. It pitted the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles against the Atlanta Falcons, who were in the Super Bowl in 2017. This battle of two football powerhouses would typically have football fans from all walks of life excited for the upcoming season. This wasn’t the case.
No, it wasn’t just the overwhelming presence of penalties during the game. As “soft” as the NFL may become this season, it’s hardly as troublesome to some fans as what happened when football wasn’t even being played.
During a break in the action, Nike aired a new commercial which featured NFL free agent and social activist Colin Kaepernick.
In the 2016 preseason, Kaepernick caused a stir with fans when he knelt during the National Anthem to protest racial oppression and social injustices. His protests persisted through the season, and more players joined in.
While his intentions were to bring the country closer together, the result was more separation. Some saw his peaceful protests as malice against the country, the flag and those who defend it. The storyline of the 2016-2017 season was the rift between those for and against.
Whether it was his lack of ability or the potentially toxic atmosphere he could bring, he went unsigned in the 2017 offseason and remained unsigned last. Kaepernick did bring a team to the NFC Championship in 2013 and has 12,271 passing yards and 2,300 career rushing yards to his name.
You’d have a hard time convincing me he’s not worthy of a job in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills named Nathan Peterman their starter for this upcoming Sunday. Peterman has more career interceptions than touchdowns and a career QBR of 13.8.
Nike tweeted out the controversial commercial a day prior to airing it on NBC during the game and it set Twitter ablaze. No, really. Those who disagreed with Nike’s new message posted videos and pictures of burning Nike apparel in protest of the commercial.
— Nike (@Nike) September 5, 2018
As protests persist over a man who is protesting, let’s take a step back and look at this from a broader stance.
Colin Kaepernick is not “anti-America.” His kneeling protest is not a middle finger to those who gave him his freedom. He recognized an issue in his country and used his platform to bring attention to it.
When athletes remain silent during turbulent times, fans chastise them for not taking action. When athletes speak up, fans tell them to be quiet. In a lose-lose situation, Kaepernick saw a reward that was worth the risk.
Without a job and still fighting for what he believes in, there will always be those who attempt to stand in Kaepernick’s way. The same day Nike tweeted out the commercial, Kaepernick had a tweet of his own.
It was a close up of his face in black and white. Superimposed on his face are the words, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Kaepernick is fighting for those that cannot fight. Kaepernick is a game changer without playing a down. Kaepernick has sacrificed his livelihood and his name to make a better tomorrow. Veterans and common man alike are behind him in his endeavors. How dare you stand in his way.