One of this month’s MVPs was, without a doubt, Colin Kaepernick. Throughout the year, the Milwaukee native has been simmering in the headlines with play-by-play updates regarding interest among teams who may have needed him on their week roster with Kaepernick continued turning down offers from other teams who would sign him if he would only let go of his belief in racial equality.
His claim of being blacklisted by the collective of NFL team owners for the controversy he has caused due to his overt protest against police brutality, took an even sharper turn once the country’s disgraced president became involved.
Well, last week, what seemingly came across as an overnight explosion, Kaepernick got the last laugh. In five days the NFL’s motion to dismiss Kaepernick’s claim of being “shut out” of the league was denied and Nike announced that at 30 years old, he will be the face of their 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. However, the biggest bang of all was when Nike purchased air time on NBC during Thursday night football to feature a commercial that boldly and unapologetically featured Colin Kaepernick, Afro and all. This bold move by Nike can perceived as risky with negative implications for its brand and merchandise sales, especially in the aftermath of the comical burning of Nike shoes by buyers with blind eyes to the racial issues that clearly exists within our justice system.
I wouldn’t look at it expressly from that point view, however. In fact, I would not be surprised if this is not a power move by Nike and the NFL to exploit the disputation while at the same time neutralize or silence Kaepernick’s call for justice. Money talks. Think about it: People love controversy. They want topics to comment on that will reinforce whatever platform they have established.
What would be the perfect opportunity to give the people what they want and to maintain viewership, relevancy, and sales? Start by giving right-wing American’s public enemy number one the top spot with the number one athletic brand. Nike not only made Colin Kaepernick the face of a campaign, they took the extra step by solidifying their decision to the whole world during primetime television. Why wouldn’t the NFL and NBC welcome such blatant power moves promoting someone who represents militancy in the eyes of the Red Hats? As the saying goes, “It’s all a numbers game.” As long as he does not step foot on the field and continue to embed his ideas upon his teammates with the nation looking on, he poses no threat. Actually, he then becomes a cash cow to the sports franchise and sneaker brand.
Nike has a team of very intelligent individuals in every aspect of the brand working hard to ultimately increase sales. They know their customer and their ever-changing target demographic. It would only make sense to appeal to a group who, studies show, has reached an estimated 1.3 trillion dollars in buying power – African Americans. If Nike chips away at least 10% of that figure, it would still be more than what the Red Hats wasted on purchasing the Nike-branded items that they set ablaze.
Colin Kaepernick is a pretty smart man, too. To think for one second that he is not aware of the outside parties capitalizing on his movement, is quite far-fetched. If I were him, this would be the moment in time to weigh the pros and cons of taking advantage of such a platform.
In less than seven days, because Kaepernick stood his ground and held tight to the hope of bringing light a problem that was oftentimes overshadowed by the fake American flag allegiance controversy and other political distractions, he can now begin to reap reward from the seeds that he’s sown in his demand for justice and equality.