Three years after Colin Kaepernick kneeled to protest police brutality and got blackballed by the NFL, the quarterback/social activist/sneakerhead has his own Nike sneaker, and it sold out shortly after being released on Monday.
The Air Force 1 x Colin Kaepernick is no longer available at Nike stores, select retailers and SNKRS, Nike said in a statement.
The sneaker was “inspired by the voice of the athlete and his ‘True to 7’ storytelling,” according to The Undefeated. Predominantly black and white, the shoe sold for $110 for adult sizes, $65 for toddler sizes and $75 for kids sizes. The shoes feature black leather and graphics including a portrait of Kapernick on the heel of each shoe, his personal logo on the tongues, a No. 7 hangtag and insoles patterned with white roses and a shattered mask.
Fans took to Twitter to celebrate what they saw as another win for Kaepernick, who collaborated with Nike in 2018 to be the face of the brand’s “Just Do It” campaign 30-year anniversary. Kaepernick appeared in a print ad with the tagline, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” He narrated a two-minute commercial, “Dream Crazy,” that won an Emmy award.
“I’m not a Sneaker Head but I might have to cop these. #TrueTo7,” one person tweeted.
“I thought Kap was bad for business?? They sold out in minutes. Love mine,” another tweeted.
“U know a person is ‘bad for business’ when they release a sneaker that SELLS OUT EVERYWHERE even in toddler sizes!!! #TrueTo7,” one person posted on social media.
Under the sole of the right Air Force 1 x Colin Kaepernick shoe are the numbers “08 14 16” — the date of a preseason game between the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans, when Kaepernick (who was not in uniform due to a shoulder injury) sat during the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the first time. This marked the beginning of his protest but went unnoticed at the time, according to The Undefeated.
Kaepernick first knelt during the national anthem on Sept. 1, 2016. In March 2017, after months of protests by NFL players, the veteran quarterback opted out of the final season of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers to become a free agent. He has been unsigned by all 32 NFL teams since.
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Nike is a major business partner of the NFL. “If they don’t want Kaepernick in the league because he is bad for business, that should be their decision to make,” Tom Joyce wrote in a September 2018 opinion piece for the Washington Examiner.
The NFL invited Kaepernick for a “private workout” on Nov. 16. The former quarterback changed the location of the workout at the last minute due to what he described as transparency issues and showed up wearing a Kunta Kinte shirt and a pair of Air Force 1s.
“I’ve marveled at how well the NFL has normalized the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick,” author Ta-Nehisi Coates said in a New York Magazine interview. “Here we are, debating whether Colin Kaepernick should have worn a Kunta Kinte shirt. Meanwhile, Richie Incognito is fine.” (In 2013, Incognito was suspended from the Miami Dolphins for harassing teammate Jonathan Martin. Martin was “subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching” by Incognito and two other teammates). Incognito plays for the Oakland Raiders.
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