- Some critics of Nike‘s ad starring Colin Kaepernick say the company should have instead featured former NFL player and army ranger Pat Tillman, who died in Afghanistan in 2004.
- Many on the right argue that Tillman better embodies the advertisement’s tagline: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
- Tillman’s widow has asked that people not pit her late husband against protesting NFL players in the past, saying in a 2017 statement: “The very action of self-expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart – no matter those views – is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for.”
Some critics of Nike’s ad starring Colin Kaepernick are arguing that a different former NFL player should be featured in the company’s new “Just Do It” ad.
On Monday, Kaepernick shared an image of his face on Twitter, with the words: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” The image was retweeted by Nike, reportedly kicking off a new multi-year deal between the former NFL player and the sportswear company.
Kaepernick was one of the first athletes to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality, sparking a movement of players doing the same. Many on the right, including President Donald Trump, have since criticised NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, with Trump calling for players to be fired.
The Nike ad immediately sparked controversy, with many critics rallying around a different former NFL player: Pat Tillman. Tillman died by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004, two years after he left the NFL to enlist in the military.
— TexasPunisher (@pa_reaves) September 4, 2018
Among the people tweeting about Tillman was Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, who posted a photo of the former NFL player in Arizona Cardinals gear, with the caption: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Tillman himself was a free thinker who had criticised the US military, something many on the left were quick to point out. After Tillman died in an incident in which he was shot by his platoonmates in 2004, the US government reportedly obscured information surrounding his death from the public and Tillman’s own family.
To the ones posting a picture of Pat Tillman with the slogan from the Kaepernick Nike ad,
I hope you idiots realize that Tillman would've fully supported Kaepernick's stance on social justice.
Read up on the guy before looking stupid.
— NOMAD (2-4-1) ???? (@Damon089) September 4, 2018
tfw you haven't googled Pat Tillman https://t.co/39aOSsq2O0
— Sarah Jones (@onesarahjones) September 4, 2018
Further, Tillman’s widow, Marie Tillman, has asked in the past that Tillman not be pitted against NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
“The very action of self-expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart – no matter those views – is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for. Even if they didn’t always agree with those views,” Tillman said in a statement to CNN following Trump’s condemnation of the protests in 2017.
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