Tag: Football

Nike Nearly Dropped Colin Kaepernick Before Embracing Him

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Nearly a month after Colin Kaepernick was revealed as the face of Nike’s groundbreaking new advertising campaign, the unveiling videohas garnered more than 80 million views on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

The ads have sent Kaepernick into a new realm of celebrity, quickly becoming among the most talked-about and successful campaigns in recent years. And they have allowed Nike, which has a history of provocative marketing campaigns, to capitalize on the so-called Resistance movement in a way it only recently realized it could.

They are also yet another vehicle for Kaepernick to raise his own profile as a sort of civil rights entrepreneur unlike anyone before has, certainly in sports. He has signed deals to write a book — which is set to be published next year and will be accompanied by a speaking tour — and to develop a comedy series.

But it almost didn’t happen. In the summer of 2017, a debate raged in Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., over whether to cut loose the controversial, unemployed quarterback — and the company very nearly did, according to two individuals with knowledge of the discussions who requested anonymity because of nondisclosure agreements each has with Nike.

When the company did decide to embrace the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, it risked angering the National Football League, a Nike partner since 2012, but the company ultimately decided it was a risk worth taking, given the credibility the company would gain with the young, urban market it has long targeted.

Kaepernick ignited a national discourse in 2016 when he began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games to protest racism, social inequality and police brutality. He left the 49ers after the 2016 season and became a free agent, but executives throughout the N.F.L. considered him radioactive because of his on-field protests, which drew vocal criticism from President Trump, and no team signed him.

That left Nike’s sports marketing group flummoxed. There seemed to be little they could do with a lightning-rod professional football player who was not playing football.

Before the company severed ties with Kaepernick, though, its top communications executive persuaded his colleagues to reverse course because of the potential for negative publicity. Kaepernick would remain on Nike’s roster of sponsored athletes — though he was largely ignored for nearly a year.

Through interviews with current and former Nike employees, individuals close to Kaepernick, analysts and others involved with the ad campaign, a picture emerged of Nike’s about-face in which the company concluded that getting behind Kaepernick’s crusade, at the urging of its longtime advertising firm, made good business sense despite the risk of angering the N.F.L.

When the company did decide to embrace the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, it risked angering the National Football League, a Nike partner since 2012, but the company ultimately decided it was a risk worth taking, given the credibility the company would gain with the young, urban market it has long targeted.

Kaepernick ignited a national discourse in 2016 when he began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games to protest racism, social inequality and police brutality. He left the 49ers after the 2016 season and became a free agent, but executives throughout the N.F.L. considered him radioactive because of his on-field protests, which drew vocal criticism from President Trump, and no team signed him.

That left Nike’s sports marketing group flummoxed. There seemed to be little they could do with a lightning-rod professional football player who was not playing football.

Before the company severed ties with Kaepernick, though, its top communications executive persuaded his colleagues to reverse course because of the potential for negative publicity. Kaepernick would remain on Nike’s roster of sponsored athletes — though he was largely ignored for nearly a year.

Through interviews with current and former Nike employees, individuals close to Kaepernick, analysts and others involved with the ad campaign, a picture emerged of Nike’s about-face in which the company concluded that getting behind Kaepernick’s crusade, at the urging of its longtime advertising firm, made good business sense despite the risk of angering the N.F.L.
READ MORE:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/sports/nike-colin-kaepernick.html

The Second Coming of RG3

Everyone was crying. RG3 himself got it started, lying there in his hospital bed, totally immobile. Then his fiancée, Rebecca, and his mom welled up. Jackie never wanted her only son to play football in the first place, not really—what mother wants her son to play football?—but she relented when the 11-year-old pinkie-promised her he wouldn’t get hurt. And now this. Finally, even the quarterback’s military father, Robert Griffin Jr., the retired sergeant, the Iraq vet, “the guy who never cries,” according to his son—not even RG2 could choke back the tears. It was January 9, 2013, three days after Griffin’s historic rookie season ended with a nasty twist of his right knee in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and minutes after Griffin had woken up from surgery in Florida, opening his eyes to a real-life nightmare. His blown-out right knee was bandaged, but so was his healthy left one. That meant Dr. Andrews—James Andrews, one of the most celebrated orthopedic surgeons in America, the same guy who rebuilt Adrian Peterson’s miracle knee a year earlier—had needed to take a tendon graft from the left knee in order to repair the right. Two shredded ligaments, the LCL and ACL. Major reconstructive surgery. Seven to nine months of rehab. Minimum. A jumble of thoughts swirled and drifted into his foggy consciousness—flashbacks to the play that knocked him out, fears about whether he’d be ready for next season—and for once in his short and blessed life, Robert Griffin III just couldn’t deal. He didn’t feel like talking to the nurse, who hadn’t noticed that he’d come to. “So instead of trying to cope with that at the moment,” he recalls now, “I just went back to sleep.” ImageWhen he woke a short while later, he felt ready. Or at least readier. As his parents stood over his bed, Griffin apologized. “After I tore my ACL in college, I told them I would never do that to them again,” he says, referring to the 2009 ACL surgery—same knee—that cost him most of his sophomore season at Baylor. “So when I woke up this time, I said, ‘I’m sorry.’ I knew the kind of pain it was going to put them through, especially my mom. I’m the baby. I’m the only son. She doesn’t want to see her baby boy get hurt.”

Dr. Andrews joined them and reported that the procedure had gone well. When the conversation turned to rehab—specifically, When can I start?—Griffin had an idea: “Hey, when’s our first game?”

Predictions for Day 1 of the 2013 NFL Draft

ImageThe NFL draft kicks off Thursday, April 25, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The first round gets underway at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN, and the draft itself goes through Saturday. Countless predictions have been made up until this point by both fans and media—most of which will be proven wrong once the picks are announced by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

The first day of the draft is a time of endless optimism. Every pick is a future Hall of Fame inductee as they’re whisked off to their new home cities for press conferences and media appearances. So, in that spirit of optimism, here are 10 more predictions that are sure to be right in the first round of the NFL draft.

Check out the Slideshow

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers rally to reach Super Bowl XLVII

162974080237385572_sXzyGWrB_cATLANTA — The clutch quarterback. The genius coach. The big-play defense. The San Francisco 49ers are ready to start a new dynasty with a familiar formula. Next stop, the Big Easy. Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore led San Francisco to a record comeback in the NFC championship game Sunday, overcoming an early 17-0 deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 and send the 49ers to their first Super Bowl since 1995. The 49ers will play the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on Feb. 3. The Ravens defeated the New England Patriots 28-13 on Sunday night.