American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick – one of the first NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest against racial injustice – has a new deal with Nike.
Kaepernick’s lawyer Mark Geragos made the announcement on Twitter, calling the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback an “all American icon”.
Kaepernick also posted a Nike ad featuring his face and wrote: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.”
The announcement has caused significant backlash on social media with many burning their Nike products using the hashtag #JustBurnIt.
The quarterback already had a deal with Nike that was set to expire, but it was renegotiated into a multi-year deal to make him one of the faces of the global sports brand’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, according to a person familiar with the contract.
A source said Nike would feature Kaepernick on several platforms, including billboards, television commercials and online ads.
Nike also will create an apparel line for Kaepernick and contribute to his Know Your Rights charity. The deal puts Kaepernick in the top bracket of NFL players with Nike.
The NFL and Nike extended their partnership in March to run through to 2028.
Nike provides all NFL teams with game-day uniforms and sideline apparel that bears the swoosh logo.
Last week Kaepernick scored a legal victory in his grievance against the NFL and its 32 teams. An arbitrator denied the league’s request to throw out the quarterback’s claims that owners conspired to keep him out of the league because of his protests against social injustice.
Kaepernick contends the owners violated their collective bargaining agreement with players by conspiring to keep him off teams.
His case hinges on whether owners worked together rather than decided individually to not sign Kaepernick.
A similar grievance is still pending by former 49ers teammate Eric Reid – a Pro Bowl safety who joined in the protests.
On Friday night, Kaepernick and Reid, also now out of the league, were each given huge ovations when they were introduced and shown on the big screen during a match between Serena and Venus Williams at the US Open.
Kaepernick started a wave of protests by NFL players two seasons ago, kneeling during the national anthem to protest against police brutality and racial inequality.
The protests have grown into one of the most polarising issues in sports. US president Donald Trump loudly urged the league to suspend or fire players who demonstrated during the anthem. The league and players union have meanwhile still not resolved whether players will be punished this season if they choose to kneel or demonstrate during the national anthem.Owners approved a policy requiring players to stand if they are on the sideline during The Star-Spangled Banner, allowing them to stay off the field if they wish.
But the league and union put that on hold after the Miami Dolphins faced backlash for classifying the protests as conduct potentially detrimental to the team - putting players at risk of fines or suspensions.