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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new Nike advertisement featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has re-ignited the debate over NFL players demonstrating during the national anthem.
The ad is a part of the 30th anniversary commemoration of the shoe brand’s iconic “Just do it” slogan. Kaepernick is one of several faces of the campaign, but he is definitely the most polarizing.
The simple black and white ad showcases Colin Kaepernick’s face with the words “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
In 2016, Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the 49ers, began kneeling during the anthem to make a statement against racial injustice.
Kaepernick faced intense backlash from President Donald Trump and other conservative voices, who viewed the protest as disrespectful to the flag and anthem.
Last year, the President famously said that NFL team owners should respond to players kneeling by saying, “Get that son of a b***h off the field right now, he’s fired.”
2016 was the last season Kaepernick played in the NFL. He’s currently pursuing legal action against the league, arguing that team owners conspired to ‘blackball’ him because of his social justice protests.
Reaction to Nike’s bold choice was swift on social media.
Twitter user @sclancy79 posted a video of his Nikes on fire.
A man’s voice is heard over the video saying, “Sorry Nike. I’ve been buying you for the past 20 plus years, not anymore.”
John Rich of the country duo Big and Rich, tweeted along with a photo, “Our Soundman just cut the Nike swoosh off his socks. Former marine. Get ready @Nike multiply that by the millions.”
But fellow athletes, including several Philadelphia Eagles players, continue to throw their support behind Kaepernick and his activism.
Safety Malcolm Jenkins plans to continue protesting during the anthem with a raised fist this season.
Eagles defensive end Chris Long tweeted: “Nike is a huge business. They’ve calculated risk. They may even have reason to believe this will make the brand more popular which means the guy burning his white air monarchs is in the minority. Bitter pill to swallow, I’m sure. Good luck w the protest. Bet they anticipated it.”
Tennis superstar Serena Williams tweeted Monday night, “Especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today. #justdoit.”
Last week, Kaepernick scored a legal victory in his grievance against the NFL. An arbitrator ruled his collusion case against the league will go forward.