The NFL released a statement on Colin Kaepernick on Tuesday, a day after corporate partner Nike unveiled an ad featuring the quarterback as part of a major ad campaign.
“The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity,” president of communications and public affairs Jocelyn Moore said in the statement. “We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities. The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”
Kaepernick has an active collusion grievance against the NFL, which cleared a hurdle last week when the league’s request to dismiss the grievance was rejected. A trial hearing that requires testimony from NFL owners could happen at some point in the future.
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U.S. President Donald Trump chimed in Tuesday afternoon in an interview with The Daily Caller.
“I think as far as sending a message, I think it’s a terrible message and a message that shouldn’t be sent,” Trump said. “There’s no reason for it.”
Kaepernick is entering his second NFL season without being on a roster, after he began kneeling in protest of racial injustice during the national anthem in August, 2016.
A Nike ad released on Monday featured a black-and-white close-up of Kaepernick’s face and the words, “Believe in something. Even it if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it.” The ad is part of the company’s 30th-anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.
ESPN reported that Nike kept paying Kaepernick – who signed with the brand in 2011 – for two years despite not using him in ads in order to bring him back at the right time.
Nike has been the NFL’s licenced-apparel maker since the league switched from Reebok in 2012. In March, the sides signed a new eight-year extension to their agreement, which now runs through 2028.