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Columns : Editorial

Nike's Blood Money

By promoting the beliefs of anti-police activists, Nike is endangering officers, innocent civilians, and even suspects.

October 01, 2018  |  by - Also by this author

Editor David Griffith (Photo: Kelly Bracken)
Editor David Griffith (Photo: Kelly Bracken)

Failed NFL quarterback and successful anti-police activist Colin Kaepernick is now the star of a Nike Inc. advertising campaign that reads: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it." It's enough to make you retch. It's certainly enough to have some Nike products leaving my home and heading for donation to hurricane victims.

There are two parts to this ad: belief and sacrifice.

The ad is Nike's declaration that it has signed on to the beliefs of Colin Kaepernick. And here's what he believes:

American law enforcement officers are racist and brutal and they should be insulted as "pigs." Cop killers like Joanne Chesimard (Assata Shakur) should be honored and little black girls should be taught to follow in her radical footsteps. Failed NFL quarterbacks can render better judgment on officer-involved shootings than trained investigators and use-of-force experts just by absorbing journalistic accounts of what happened and listening to propaganda. All killings of black and Hispanic suspects by law enforcement are "legal lynchings," regardless of the circumstances. Finally, young black men have much more to fear from police than from criminals.

I could refute each of these beliefs, but I just don't have the space or the energy. And it would be preaching to the choir. You already know the answers. I will say this, though: Kaepernick and his followers use grains of truth—such as the fact a very small number of officers are racist and/or brutal and some police use of force is suspect—to condemn the entire profession. It's the worst kind of stereotyping, and I believe it is getting officers, criminals, and innocent people killed.

Which begs the question of why Nike would sign on to this movement and help Kaepernick espouse these distortions of the truth. Was it a political decision or a business one? From a business standpoint, the company took it on the chin the week it announced its Kaepernick campaign. People burned Nike products; others swore to never buy them again; the National Association of Police Organizations declared a boycott; the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement calling the campaign an "insult;" and conservative pundits produced opinion pieces slamming the company. Consequently, the company's stock dipped. Unfortunately, it all turned around quickly. Nike stock is now at a record high and the company is moving much more Swoosh-bearing products than it ever has before.

Nike launched this campaign because it realized two things: Kaepernick is popular with a large segment of society who think he represents the "resistance" to Donald Trump, and you can't buy the kind of publicity this stunt generated. Nike clearly believed there was money to be made in appealing to young people who hate Trump and believe Kaepernick is a hero, even if it royally pissed off its more conservative customers. This may have been the most cynical and successful marketing move in history.

Which brings me to the discussion of the second part of that abhorrent ad. Sacrifice. Did Kaepernick sacrifice anything? You could argue he sacrificed his NFL career for his beliefs and activism. But it was a career on a downhill trajectory anyway. And any money he has lost as a result of failing in his professional football career he has more than made back in his contract with Nike. So I would argue Kaepernick has not lost anything for his beliefs.

One of the most popular conservative responses to the Nike ad was to superimpose the ad's copy about sacrifice over photos of flag-draped caskets of military and law enforcement heroes. It's a valid commentary; the men and women killed in service to this country have strong beliefs and have made great sacrifices. They and their families sacrificed for their beliefs, not some journeyman professional athlete who stereotypes police.

I believe Nike is collecting blood money from this ad. And I say that because it helps perpetuate the slander that all law enforcement officers just want to murder minority suspects with impunity. That is repugnant. Worse, it instills a fear in African American offenders that police would rather kill them than arrest them. Which is a dangerous lie. Already we are seeing more and more young black men who are willing to shoot it out with law enforcement over minor offenses. And I believe that is a direct result of the propaganda that Kaepernick helps spread and Nike is now profiting from.

Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

Jonathan Simmons @ 10/28/2018 10:21 AM

.....What!? This is by far the most insane thing I've read coming from this magazine. You really think...I'm speechless that this is how you've defined this young man's protest. I am former law enforcement and I think anyone who has worn the badge KNOWS there are bad apples out there. His protest isn't ANTI law enforcement. I'm probably going to wish I didn't comment, but if this type of commentary is what is the result of a PEACEFUL protest to bring attention to ACTUAL injustice...there isn't enough space on this page. Every OIS isn't justified. I would argue most ARE. Some ARE NOT, and it's too often when it is not justified that race appears to be a factor. I apologize if I've offended anyone. I'm sure these words will be misconstrued to say I'm ANTI law enforcement too. These are unbelievable times.

kevcopaz @ 10/28/2018 4:02 PM

This article is right on the money. Kaepernick is a whore and NIKE is the pimp. This has been QB is only half Back and he has an inferiority complex and is trying to promote his "blackness". To those that buy NIKE to support him its your $ and a free country, Everyone I know has turned to other brands. As far as Simmons comments he is a b9t correct, some (few) OIS are not justified but ALL officers killed in the line of duty are NOT justified at all, never, ever. He fails to note that each time an officer dies for the likes of him(yes we defend idiots as well) is a hero, not a sports hero or a political hero, a real hero. Anyone who knows Law Enforcement also knows that with out them this world would be in chaos. Period end of statement. The "protest" is against ALL police and disrespectful to all police. You want to bring race into it? More police are assaulted and or killed by minorities then the other way around. Perhaps they are the racists!.

Grey Bear @ 11/3/2018 8:50 AM

Not everything Simmons said is overtly obscene, but its bordering on it. I spent over 35 years as a front-line officer, and I've seen a lot. He is right; not EVERY OIS is justified, but the majority of them are. Also, in far too many cases it is found that had the ultimately deceased perp complied with the verbal commands they were given, often more than once, pretty much every one of them would have survived the encounter. Are there "bad apples" in law enforcement, yeah, there are. However, when you consider it on a 'per capita' basis, there are far less than many, if not most, professions. And since we can draw our candidates from only one pool, the human race, we will always face that issue. We must remain vigilant and weed out the ones that are more problem than they are worth...but Kaepernick and his misguided followers are painting the entire issue with much too broad a brush, and in doing so push a false narrative that is detrimental to all sides.

AZBIGDOG @ 11/4/2018 5:57 AM

knickers problem is that he is creating a myth about supporting the black population. He is supporting one thing, himself. His kneeling and refusing to stand for the national anthem and wearing clothing that calls LEOs pigs is disgraceful. He tras and feathers all LEOs with the same brush, they are racist because they are LEOs. The national felons league and nickels need to stand up to a racist in itself campaign, and understand that their going to alienate those who probably supported them all their lives. Boycott national felons league and the nickels.

Trigger @ 11/4/2018 7:10 AM

I’ve been in this profession for 40 years and never have I seen such disrespect for law enforcement. Let’s lay a basic foundation there are bad cops just like there are bad doctors, athletes, teachers, etc., but they are in the small minority. What are Kaepernick’s actual beliefs? It’s easy to mouth off about the police on what they did or did not do, but he never talks about the root problems. What sacrifice has he made, again it’s easy to be a talking head but how about getting your hands dirty. Why not spend sometime working with the youth in a positive way, be a positive role model, make an investment in the to be better citizens. Yes Nike has taken a major step away from being a respectable company to becoming a company that has it’s morals buried in the sands of ignorance. Mr. Simmons you have also missed the truth of reality.

Popo @ 11/5/2018 3:12 AM

This article is a very truthful article full of things that needed to be said. I just wosh these things would be said on national television and everytime one of these race baiting clowns gets these liberal media to let them have some air time. Anyone who disagrees is definitely blind to the race baiting, anti police, anti trump movements going on in this country. I encourage all conservatives to start standing up!!!

Badge411 @ 11/7/2018 6:31 PM

33 + years of law enforcement and still working. Mr. Simmons, the former NFL player isn't "peacefully protesting", he's inciting. Your comment that he isn't "Anti-Law Enforcement" is inaccurate, he's completely Anti-Police right down to the "Pig" socks he wears. He constantly decries Police brutality insinuating that it's out of control on a National level and occurring every day. If you were in Law Enforcement, you'd know that is quite the opposite of what actually occurs. I will agree to your "bad apple" theory, that's never going to go away. But you don't paint with a broad brush and accuse every single professional with slanderous comments. NFL players don't like it when we refer to them as the National Felon League, are they all felons? This "person" you are defending has become radicalized and racially motivated, he's sacrificed nothing and never has, he doesn't understand the meaning of service. I also did 7 years active duty military and deployed during Desert Storm. I've seen real Americans make sacrifices over my long career. Your former NFL player doesn't hold a candle to those that have truly sacrificed, or their families...

Tom ret @ 11/17/2018 8:25 AM

I had a used pair of Nike tennis shoes but threw them away. I don't watch the NFL. Im not interested in what Kapernuts has to say and have no respect for him or what he is spouting. If the NFL believes the cops are so bad they themselves should provide their own security.

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