There’s a time for kneeling, and a time for standing up

Nike Ad

I am totally down with the new Nike ad campaign that features former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, even if I’m not sold on the feng shui of this union just yet.

Let’s chill with this idea that Kaepernick is this generation’s Muhammad Ali. This, ain’t that. I’m not talking about what each man risked in their respective protests, because each did result in a loss of employment. No, I’m talking about the dialogue that was culled from it.

Kaepernick is the face of a movement that is still struggling to define itself even now, mostly because you hardly ever hear the man speak. Silence does not a movement grow, and it’s one of the many reasons the anthem protests have stuttered and stalled.

Granted, this isn’t all the young man’s fault. We do live in an age where every particular is dissected and disseminated until its original intent is no longer the conversation. Problem is, his polarizing moments have followed the precepts of Instagram in that they provided optics without saying a word. Wearing socks that depict cops as pigs, sporting a Che Guevara t-shirt and touting the qualities of Fidel Castro makes Kaepernick look like one of those Hollywood fools. It sure as hell doesn’t further a movement that is in dire need of a driver.

All due respect to Kaepernick, but the anthem protests needed an Ali; it needed a voice that wouldn’t shrink under the scrutiny, a presence whose conviction would augment the steep and bumpy road to progress. I realize movements don’t work that way and that to wish for such a thing is to mitigate the organic qualities that make a cause worth fighting for. Rosa Parks didn’t choreograph her bus ride home, after all. She was just tired of the way things were and decided to do something about it.

Kaepernick is the accidental social activist. People forget that in the genesis of these anthem protests, his football career had suffered a downward trajectory. Defensive coordinators had figured him out; his statistics and his team’s record bear this out. Long gone was the shine of that Super Bowl ride he took San Francisco on a few years earlier.

It made his banishment from the league that much easier to justify, because owners could point to the numbers in explaining why he couldn’t latch onto another job after his team cut him loose. This ignores the fact that Kaep was still a better option than a bunch of quarterbacks who were still drawing paychecks from NFL teams. Not to mention the fact that my Miami Dolphins paid Jay Cutler- a quarterback with nothing left in the tank- 10 million dollars to come out of retirement for what amounted to a four month Florida vacation. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that one of Kaepernick’s former teammates and a fellow protester, Eric Reid, is still looking for a job. Reid is a twenty six year old all-pro who just so happens to be in his prime, so I’ll let you connect the dots on that one.

When you do the math, the anthem protests have resulted in jobless brothers and a shitload of rhetoric and double talk from both sides. From President Trump to Serena Williams to the NFL cutting a big check to various social causes as if that makes up for the fact they just don’t get it. Call me a cynic, but that doesn’t feel like progress to me.

The Nike ads speak to us in the language of our times. It’s a glossy meme that basically tells us to pick a side, theirs. It’s a ballsy move by a company that practices its Just Do It preach. Bringing Kaepernick into the fold was provocative, not to mention, good business sense.

Because it’s the bottom line that is driving this, not the company’s social conscience. This is, after all, a company that made its bones on three hundred dollar sneakers made in third world countries for pennies on the dollar. Phil Knight is a brilliant businessman who will never be confused with Mahatma Gandi.

There are going to be plenty of people who slam Kaepernick for getting in bed with a company that doesn’t give a fig about social justice. But not me. I never begrudge a man for making bank, it’s un-American. I simply hope that with this new platform, he is able to grow into the job of social activist. He proved that he’s invested in furthering his brand. Now I want him to use Nike the way they’re intent on using him. Use this spotlight to mobilize, challenge and yes, speak out.

Just do it.


33 thoughts on “There’s a time for kneeling, and a time for standing up

  1. I have to respect your position on the social activist wish for Kaepernick. I also think Phil Knight should be allowed to hire whoever he wants to speak for his stuff. The public has a right to speak out but people if you don’t like the move don’t buy the stuff. I predict you’ll see a post-Nike out of work Kaepernick still silent about what the hell he is wanting to change. I don’t think he has anything to say. ( I may be alone in this opinion.) Well said, as usual, Marc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • John,
      When the anthem protests began, I questioned how invested Kaepernick truly was. Of course, in the interest of being fair minded, I gave him the benefit of doubt as time went on. I mean, he did reach out to service people and he did donate his money and time to certain causes. Still, I was dubious from the standpoint that, to be the face of a movement, you gotta be all in. This ain’t a photo shoot, this is real work. I’m still not sure this guy is THE guy to move the protests forward. I support the players in this, and I think the fact that Kaep is silent, he’s allowing the owners as well as those who disagree with him to build the narrative.
      As far as Nike, yeah, I don’t plan on cutting out the swish, lol. How absurd. I’ll buy Nike regardless of who the spokesperson happens to be because I like the product.
      It’s ironic how all the peeps who rail on about how unpatriotic the players who protest are don’t seem to have a problem with the NFL powers that be. It was the league who made the anthem a pre-game ritual to begin with. For pay. That doesn’t seem very patriotic to me . . .

      Liked by 2 people

  2. B,
    You said you weren’t feeling it last night… I believe a good night’s rest was just what you needed because this is powerfully done. I agree with you, Kaep ain’t no Ali, because, as you have mentioned, he has kept his silence. That is definitely not how a movement is started (unless of course, you ARE Rosa Parks and silently took your seat as a first sign of defiance. She most definitely did NOT remain silent after, did she?)
    I think Kaepernick is just a puppet whose strings are loosely being handled by a puppetmaster – said master doesn’t have to explain why he moves him in such a way as he is but an object. It would be nice if he could become a true representative by opening his mouth. But that would mean he had conviction, and, as we’ve discussed, we’re not so sure he has any.
    Fantabulously done, my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good luck finding a voice in this polarized culture. Considering how the DOD hijacked the NFL years ago with this whole pseudo display of patriotism, frankly I wish it’d go away. Not that I mind the Kaepernick/Nike association, but I find there is an irony in Nike’s manipulation of an athlete by injecting itself in this whole cluster for good measure. Call me cynical but I feel like Kaep is being used as well as ostracized by the league and Nike.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Monika,

      The anthem protests were dying down until a certain someone interjected himself into the fray. And people followed and agreed with this idea that to peacefully protest was anathema to our democracy, when the truth of the matter is, it’s VITAL to ours or any democracy.
      I support the protest, I want dialogue. Not to vilify people in uniform, but to bring about change where it most definitely is needed.
      But I feel you’re right on, Kaep is being used.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I hate that he’s being used and victimized twice. So sad (to quote that same certain douchebag). In 1945 NFL commissioner Elmer Layden decreed, “The playing of the national anthem should be as much a part of every game as the kickoff. We must not drop it simply because the war is over (baseball began doing it in the early 1940’s). We should never forget what it stands for.” Then in 2009 NFL players began standing on the field for the national anthem before the start of primetime games. Before this, players would stay in their locker rooms except during the Super Bowl and after 9/11. In 2015 Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake released a report revealing that the Department of Defense spent $6.8 million between 2012 and 2015 on what they referred to as “paid patriotism” events before professional sports games, including American flag displays, honoring of military members, reenlistment ceremonies, etc. The DoD justified the money paid to 50 professional sports teams by calling it part of their recruiting strategy. However, many teams had these ceremonies without compensation from the military, and there was nothing found in the contracts that mandated that players stand during the anthem. Fans don’t realize it was a recruiting tool for the armed services and think it was some sort of statement about patriotism.

        I’m with you, peaceful protest is vital to our democracy, but now that there has been this cultural conflation in the midst of the extreme polarism, it’ll pretty much be just viewed as you’re either ‘with us or agin us.’ The double standard that black Americans are held to with their interactions with police breaks my heart. WTH?!

        Liked by 1 person

        • The league cashed in on the field sized flag and the fly overs whilst making it appear they were red blooded patriots rather than straight cash homies, lol.
          It’s amazing how the NFL- and every sports league- ‘gifts’ its fans all of these amazing things, for a price. Here’s a league that priced families out of their generations in the making season boxes when the owners wanted PSL’s. And all the while, Commissioner Goodell insisted they were ‘good investments’ rather than what they really were- highway robbery.
          So I’m not surprised at their disingenuous ways when it comes to patriotism. Everything is a sell.
          Your last line is exactly why we need action and not rhetoric. The anthem protests are just, and it’s maddening how the purpose has been lost.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Actually Rosa’s bus ride was quite choreographed by a well-organized movement with tangible goals. It’s true, I think, though, that this century’s issue of the moment needs organization and an actual spokesperson who speaks, loudly. I wonder how fractured communication makes it harder now to be as cohesive and effective, not to mention the polarization that makes it impossible for some to even admit what he’s protesting is a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • T Siz,

      You are correct. Rosa Parks was one of the leaders of an organized movement who knew exactly what she was doing. My point, which wasn’t very clear at all, is that she wasn’t being directed by agents and marketing peeps. She was invested. I am dubious as to Kaep’s investment.
      How CAN a movement prosper today?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oooohhhhhhhhhh. Sorry I missed that.

        Yes. How, indeed. In this age, how does one start a movement without engaging and using the marketing peeps/agents, etc., as much as he may think he’s being used by them to make money?


        Liked by 1 person

        • After your comment, I was going to rework that thought, which really didn’t come across at all. But then, it would have turned into a whole big thing and the water had already left the dam.
          But you’re right, how is a person and the message they bring viable without inviting all those tentacles into play? And in so doing, does it compromise that message? I’m not saying the cause isn’t right, but unfortunately, many people bring their jaded senses into the fray and the next thing you know, the whole thing has devolved from going forward to going sideways.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s nice to see an intelligent, thoughtful, and open dialog about Colin and the movement. As you mentioned, it isn’t much of a movement at the moment. I think Colin is committed to the ideal, but not the actions and voice to create a movement. He may not even want a movement. I think he was simply trying to bring attention to a problem, which he did, but it gets lost in all the ranting online.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My part-time retirement job is in a pro shop at a golf course – and yes, we sell Nike apparel. Between the shop and other encounters, who are the most common people who complain about Kaepernick & Nike? … That’s easy – older white guys who probably vote Republican, watch Fox News, and wear New Balance shoes bought at Kohl’s. Hello out there – you people aren’t not Nike’s target audience!

    Liked by 1 person

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