Nike, which has drawn controversy with a new ad featuring former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, plans to run a 90 second version of the commercial during Thursday night’s season opening game on NBC.
While playing for the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick decided to protest police violence against African Americans by kneeling during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.
Other players followed and the protest became a political football with President Trump urging team owners to fire the players. Some fans were also angry at the players for being disrespectful to the flag and the issue has been cited as a contributing factor to lower NFL ratings last season.
Kaepernick is suing the league, claiming owners have colluded to keep him off teams because of his civil rights activity.
The NFL, the most powerful force in TV programming, has been trying to figure out how to handle the anthem situation and some of the networks have decided they will not be televising the anthem before most games.
The new Nike ad has dashed whatever hopes the NFL had that the controversy will fade as its new season starts. Once it was revealed that Kaepernick was in the commercial, some fans posted online video of themselves burning their sneaker or cutting the “swoosh” logo from their apparel.
“Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts. I wonder if they had any idea that it would be this way?” President Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
NIke is a corporate partner of the league and provides some team jerseys.
The cost of buying a 90-second spot on Sunday night football would be more than $1 million.
Kaepernick narrates the commercial, called Dream Crazy. The spot celebrates 30 years for the Nike slogan “Just Do It.’ It features athletes including LeBron James, Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr. and Eliud Kipchoge .
It also shows 29-year-old basketball phenom and wheelchair athlete Megan Blunk, who took gold in Rio in 2016; Isaiah Bird, who was born without legs, and at 10 years old has become the one to beat on his wrestling team; Charlie Jabaley — an Ironman who made over his life by dropping 120 pounds, going vegan, and in the process, reversed the growth of a life-long brain tumor; and Michigander Alicia Woollcott, who simultaneously played linebacker and was named homecoming queen during her high school senior season.
The spot will also air during the U.S. Open, Major League Baseball Games and college football.