TORONTO — Nike's decision to use Colin Kaepernick as the face of a new ad campaign has won a thumbs-up from Michael Bradley.
"Obviously I'm not a Nike guy, but good on Nike," said the Toronto FC skipper, who is endorsed by Puma and is the grandson of a U.S. marine. "In a moment where so many people, so many companies would have run the other way, to not only stand by him but to show that support, it says a lot."
Kaepernick tweeted a teaser — a picture of his face with the words "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything" above the trademark Nike swoosh.
The campaign is part of the apparel giant's 30th anniversary 'Just Do It' ad campaign.
"I think it's incredible," Bradley said Tuesday when asked about the Kaepernick campaign. "The ad they put out sends such a simple, such a strong message.
"In a day where ... everything become so polarizing, everything is taken to the extreme, (where) too many things are taken out of context, I couldn't have more respect for Colin Kaepernick — what he has done, what he is doing to try to take something and turn it into a conversation, a big conversation every day. And not something that just gets tip-toed around."
Kaepernick became a lightning rod by kneeling during the U.S. national anthem as a protest against racial injustice and police brutality. Now out of football, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback is pursuing a collusion grievance against the NFL.
News that Nike was giving a bigger platform to Kaepernick, who has been associated with the company since 2011, drew immediate reaction on both sides of the issue with Nike's share price taking an initial drop.
Bradley, a longtime captain of the U.S. national team, has proved to be a thoughtful observer on social issues in the past.
In January 2017, he said he was "sad and embarrassed" by President Donald Trump's attempts to institute a travel ban on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press