AUSTIN, Texas - When it comes to making a statement with a powerful marketing campaign, Nike just did it.
The athletics clothing company partnered with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick's controversial decision to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality has been debated both on and off the field, but, Tuesday, Nike reignited the debate.
“We don't need more issues to divide us, we need things to bring us together and this is certainly one that divides us,” said UT Alumnus Chris Brammer.
The 30th anniversary of the company's famous just do it slogan includes ads featuring Kaepernick. Although he faced backlash during his football career for kneeling during the national anthem, Kaepernick also decided to just do it. There has been no shortage of opinions following the move, many people calling Kaepernicks protest disrespectful to the flag.
“He's not addressing the flag. He's addressing injustice. What does the flag stand for? It should stand for treating all people the same,” said Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder.
“He could have free speech on his own time, but, once he takes the field, there are certain standards that you need to abide by and he failed to do that,” Brammer said.
The ad released Tuesday quotes Kaepernick reading, "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything."
“He was criticized by a lot of people. He was very much alone for a long time. A lot of folks turned their backs on him, that was very painful, so he went through a whole lot. I'm just glad that he survived, first of all, and that he got a certain amount of redemption,” said Linder.
“I don't know how many millions of dollars he got from the Nike contract, but it doesn't sound like much of a sacrifice to me,” Brammer said.
Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas also challenges the use of the word sacrifice. Writing in a statement, "This entire conversation is about the police. Texas has lost the most police officers to Line of Duty Deaths in America. They are the ones who have literally sacrificed everything."
Nike has already seen stocks tumble and talk of a boycott trend on twitter.
Brammer has even proposed the university's football team part ways with their Nike sponsor.
“I think that what the university needs to do, is recognize that the money they get from Nike is now blood money, the blood money of the officers in Dallas who gave their lives while protecting protesters in a Black Lives Matter rally,” said Brammer.
Still, some players support Nike’s decision.
“That's good for him standing up for something he believes in. I always respect that and that was cool to see,” said UT wide receiver Collin Johnson.
Several NFL players have kneeled during the anthem since Kaepernick started the trend. The league tried to implement a policy requiring players on the field to stand, but it was put on hold as the Players' Association negotiates the details.
Debbie Lee, mother of Marc Alan Lee the first Navy SEAL to give his life in service to our country during Operation Iraqi Freedom, founded Americas Mighty Warriors. She wrote this about Nike’s decision to feature Kaepernick,
“For two years Colin Kaepernick has continued to divide our nation by leading a revolt against our flag, against America, against our troops, and against our brave warriors who sacrificed even their final breath defending the freedoms they hold dear. The NFL didn't have the strength of character or fortitude to stand against this and not allow their employees to disrespect our flag and make political statements while at work. They lost the respect of most Veterans, families of our fallen and American patriots.
I was an AVID Denver Bronco Fan and I have not watched a game or spent a penny on merchandise in the past two years. Trust me I made trips to Colorado with an empty suitcase just to bring back Bronco gear when I visited. The NFL made a decision this year that their players, if they were on the field would stand for the National Anthem and our Flag. If they didn't want to stand they could stay in the locker room. I believe that decisions was made because of the loss of revenue that the NFL felt in the previous year, and it was a little too late.
I felt like I had been sucker punched when I heard the news this morning that Colin Kaepernick has been hired as the face for Nike and that he has "sacrificed everything" because of his choice to not stand for the national anthem, his choice to disrespect our Flag, our Veterans and families of our fallen. This man knows NOTHING of sacrifice, let alone everything.
My son sacrificed everything, he gave his final breath defending Colin Kaepernick's freedoms. He died for Nike to have the freedom to hire this spoiled attention seeking brat. As Americans we have the right to purchase our shoes and athletic gear where we want and I'm done with the swoosh and will just "do it" somewhere else.”