Nike announced on Monday that it would be making Colin Kaepernick the face of its “Just Do It” ad campaign. Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since 2016 when he started protesting racial injustice during the national anthem.
As expected, the ad campaign was met with strong opinions from both sides of the political spectrum. But for Eagles defensive end Chris Long, Nike took a major step in marketing Kaepernick.
Long spoke to reporters on Tuesday and explained why Nike is sending an important message.
“For a lot of kids and for a lot of younger people that might feel like — especially people of color — that are looking at Kaep and saying, ‘Well, if I speak my mind there’s going to be this negative repercussion by the powers at be.’ The NFL being one of them who’s obviously levied unofficially their blackballing. But then you see a major corporation like Nike get behind him, it kind of reinforces that you can still stand up for what you believe in, and you can still be a mainstream face that people look at. And you can be marketable. That’s the positive of it to me.
“I think you can still look at Nike and be like, ‘Hey, Nike’s gotta do better in general.’ And this is a step in the right direction, and it’s for the reason of there are kids looking at that and saying, ‘Well, if I take a risk like Colin and speak my mind and tell the truth, am I gonna be kind of shut out from the mainstream?’ And Nike’s doing a good job of reinforcing that that’s not true.”
He also believed that Nike was prepared for people burning (already paid for) Nike products, and that it was a risk they were willing to take.