Bock’s Score: Just Don’t Do It Nike

Now about the curious case of Colin Kaepernick, the dismissed and some would say disgraced quarterback who has become as annoying to the National Concussion League as a pebble in your shoe or something in your eye.

Kaepernick, you will remember, had the colossal nerve to protest social injustice in the United States by kneeling during the National Anthem before games.

Some nerve. Who does he think he is, protesting in the middle of a longstanding tradition in the land of the free and the home of the brave? What’s more, his act inspired scores of other players to join in the movement, leaving the league embarrassed and annoyed.

The league responded by finding plenty of other quarterbacks – two for each team, sometimes three  – who would better fit their needs than Kaepernick, who once led the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl.

That, Kaepernick decided, is collusion – where have we heard that word before? — and he sued. Meanwhile, his former league struggled with the National Anthem protests, egged on by rejected owner Donald Trump, who, when he was turned down in multiple attempts to buy a team became president of the United States instead.

The National Anthem conundrum remains unresolved as the league prepares for the start of a new season. Do they allow kneeling? Do they require standing? Can the players stay in the locker room or are they required to be on sideline? Should players be fined or suspended if they protest? Nobody knows yet. We’ll let you know when they decide.

Then, to make things worse, an arbitrator ruled that the annoying quarterback’s conspiracy complaint was valid and could not be summarily dismissed, sort of the way Kaepernick was when he insisted on kneeling.

 And then, to make things worse, Nike stuck its trademark swoosh into the matter. The sporting goods company, a longtime partner of the league and provider of swoosh decorated uniforms for all the teams, unveiled the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It’’ advertising campaign.

Well, if it isn’t old pal Colin Kaepernick, poker-faced in the ad which carries the following message:  “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.’’


 Nike will use Kaepernick to endorse apparel including a shoe and T-shirts and as a reminder to its football partners that it is an independent business, free to employ anybody whose name it believes will sell its products.

There was an outburst of outrage on some fronts, people burning up the Nike gear for which they paid a considerable price. It was a display of anger at the player and the company who were doing nothing more outrageous than tapping into good old fashioned American capitalism. Others suggested that if folks no longer wanted to wear the swoosh, they should contribute their stuff to needy charities who certainly could use it.

This was one more headache the league can blame on Kaepernick, the quarterback nobody wants and his old league wishes would just go away. Sort of like that annoying pebble in your shoe.


About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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