Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is about to begin his second season without a job with an NFL team. Kaepernick has alleged that the NFL owners colluded to keep him out of the league, and is in the process of a grievance case against the league. (The NFL's summary judgment motion in the case was recently denied, meaning the judge feels there is an issue of fact to be decided at trial.)
The reasoning behind the alleged collusion, as you likely know, was Kaepernick's decision to first sit and then later, kneel (a decision he came to after talking with a former Army Green Beret) during the national anthem on game days as a protest against systemic racism and police brutality. Kaepernick at first did not inform anyone of his decision to protest, but after he was spotted seated on the bench during the anthem prior to a 2016 preseason game, he responded that it was a stance he'd taken in order to raise awareness of those issues.
Kaepernick's decision set off a wave of other protests in and around the NFL, and the teams' owners have since been attempting to find a way to get players to stop protesting, negotiating with players along the way. They even came up with and announced a new national anthem policy earlier this offseason, but the move was swiftly criticized.
Kaepernick, meanwhile, has remained on the sidelines. He has spoken in public very rarely, and has not had much of a chance to get back into the league. Now, though, he is the face of a new Nike campaign that was unveiled on Monday. Here it is:
"Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it."
The message here is fairly obvious: Kaepernick believed in a cause and it resulted in his sacrificing his livelihood for that belief. While he's been out of the league and waiting for another shot, Kaepernick hasto various organizations that advance the cause of equality. The Nike ad, meanwhile, has already from the athlete community.
According to Yahoo!'s Charles Robinson, Kaepernick's Nike campaign involves more than just a social media photo. Kaepernick is "going to have his own branded line. Shoes, shirts, jerseys, etc. There will be Kaepernick apparel." Despite being inactive last season, Kaepernick's 49ers jersey was still in the league. Nike obviously believes he can still move merchandise as well.