Colin Kaepernick was featured in a new Nike ad with the words, "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt."
"The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity. We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities," wrote Jocelyn Moore, the NFL's executive vice president of communications and public affairs. The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action."
Kaepernick tweeted the Nike ad Monday that featured a picture of his face with the words, "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt."
The ad prompted support and criticism across the internet. Pictures were shared of people destroying Nike logos, while #NikeBoycott began trending as people talked of switching company alliances.
Nike is the NFL's official uniform sponsor, and the partnership was recently extended through 2028.
The former 49ers quarterback started kneeling during the 'Star-Spangled Banner' in August 2016 as a means of protesting racial inequality and police brutality. Dozens of other NFL players, as well as numerous other athletes across America, ultimately joined him. The protests grew during the 2017 season after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who chose to follow suit. Trump said owners should "fire" NFL players who protest the anthem and referred to them as "son[s] of b------". Players responded by protesting en masse.
Kaepernick hasn't played since the 2016 season. He filed a grievance against the NFL for collusion in October 2017 after another team did not pick him up after opting out of his 49ers contract in March of the same year. He won the summary judgment phase of his collusion case last week.
NFL owners voted on a new national anthem policy in May, and there have been talks that some players are considering different ways to protest.
The new policy removes a requirement for players to be on the field for the anthem and gives players the option to stay in the locker room. Teams will be fined for any personnel that "do not show proper respect for the flag and Anthem” on the sidelines.