Nike made all sorts of headlines in recent weeks when it chose to use the controversial Colin Kaepernick as the face of its 30th anniversary ads.
Kaepernick critics were not thrilled for a multitude of reasons. After all, Kaepernick was the man who sparked the NFL’s current tumult of national anthem protests, an act that many Americans find disrespectful to the men and women who protect and serve this country.
There’s also the little fact that Kaepernick has previously worn socks that depicted police officers as pigs. He also wore a shirt glorifying former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Not exactly an uplifting message.
Then Nike gives America an ad that looks like this:
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 3, 2018
“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything,” the ad reads.
A television ad also debuted during the NFL’s opening weekend.
“So don’t ask if your dreams are crazy, ask if your dreams are crazy enough,” Kaepernick says in the television ad.
Unsurprisingly, the ad campaign was hotly divisive. Kaepernick fans were obviously thrilled that he was being thrust back into the national limelight.
But perhaps most importantly of all, Kaepernick supporters, and even some neutral observers, have been forced to answer the question of what exactly Kaepernick has sacrificed.
His NFL career? People seem quick to forget that Kaepernick willingly opted out of his San Francisco 49ers contract after the 2016 NFL season — when he’d lost his starting QB job anyway. He was also offered at least one contract, by the Denver Broncos, which he also declined, according to USA Today. It’s not exactly a sacrifice if Kaepernick is willingly staying away from the NFL.
His money? Nope. Nike’s new deal with Kaepernick is reportedly worth millions. That’s not bad for an athlete who hasn’t actually played meaningful competitive football is over a year.
Fame? Again, say what you will about Kaepernick, but he’s undoubtedly a much more visible and public figure since beginning his social activism campaign. He’s also not exactly fading into the sunset.
So again, what exactly is Kaepernick sacrificing other than some time to shoot those Nike ads? The clear answer seems to be “not much.”
But while Nike was drawing massive attention for its Kaepernick ad, another major company released an ad talking about the adversity another NFL player really has overcome, and sends a much more positive message than disrespecting law enforcement.
Gillette, which makes shaving blades, released an ad touting the amazing story of one-handed Seattle Seahawks linebacker Shaquem Griffin. The ad shows a one-handed Griffin — who got a mention in the Kaepernick ad that lasted barely three seconds — growing up and trying to keep pace with his older brother Shaquill (who also plays for the Seahawks.)
“Your best never comes easy,” the ad reads. The ad shows Shaquem never making an excuses or whining about the disadvantage of playing without a hand. Gillette also released a follow-up video showcasing the family affair that Shaquem’s career turned out to be.
Now, Griffin may not have had to sacrifice anything per se, but the ad is a heck of a lot more uplifting and powerful than Nike’s with Kaepernick.
Good for Gillette. This ad deserved to get much more coverage than it did.
It isn’t focusing on nonsensical culture wars. It isn’t giving tacit approval to disparaging police officers or the country. It focuses on family, incredible work ethic and never making excuses.
And we all could use more of that.
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