Bears outside linebacker Sam Acho was on his way to promote his upcoming charity event at Steak 48 during a Bears off-day on Tuesday when Nike’s most recent marketing campaign popped up on his phone.
While Nike ads on his social media timelines are most likely nothing out of the ordinary for the grizzled NFL veteran, this one was strikingly different. The ad, which was unveiled on Twitter Monday, was simple by nature. But the black-and-white photo that showed a close-up of former 49ers quarterback-turned-social activist Colin Kapernick had a chilling message painted across his face: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”
Acho couldn’t have agreed more.
“Honestly, I stand with Kap,” said Acho, who is a member of the Bears’ social justice committee. “If you ask me my opinion, I stand with Kap because think about it — he did sacrifice everything. When I was an Arizona Cardinals, he was playing with the 49ers. He was the best if not one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. So, I’ve played against this guy. I’ve sacked this guy, I’ve missed sacks on this guy. And so, I know what he’s capable of doing and to see him not have a job right now, it’s tough.
“He sacrificed a lot. I think what he spearheaded has caused ripple effects around the NFL … If it weren’t for Kap taking a knee, I wouldn’t be standing here right now [talking about social injustice issues].”
Acho isn’t the only player praising Nike and voicing support for Kaepernick.
Dolphins wide receiver Kenney Stills tweeted: “#IMWITHKAP” after the ad went viral. Kelvin Beachum, who plays for the New York Jets, also voiced his support for Kaepernick on Twitter.
LeBron James is one of the most recent stars to weigh in on Nike’s ad. While receiving an award for both his style and his philanthropy in New York on Tuesday, James, who is sponsored by Nike, said he stood “for anybody who believes in change.”
“I stand with Nike, all day, every day,” James said.
While Nike’s Kaepernick ad, which is a part of the company’s 30th anniversary of its famous “Just Do It” campaign, has received a lot of positive recognition, it’s also sparked backlash.
Videos and pictures surfaced on various social media platforms this week of angry consumers cutting up or burning their Nike merchandise.
President Donald Trump also criticized the ad and said Nike is sending a “terrible message” by featuring the free-agent quarterback.
“But I think it’s a terrible message that they’re sending and the purpose of them doing it, maybe there’s a reason for them doing it,” Trump told The Daily Caller. “But I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent. There’s no reason for it.”