JOHN GRANATO

Kaepernick, Nike pour more gas on a combustible fire

Colin Kaepernick jerseys say a lot. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I saw a man wearing a 49ers No. 7 jersey at the LSU-Miami game Sunday night. It meant something. He was making a statement about who he was and where he was coming from.

Is there another jersey in any sport that has that kind of power, that makes that kind of statement politically or socially? I don’t think so.

It doesn’t matter which side you’re on on this issue. I have my opinion, you have yours and I know I’m not going to change yours no matter what I say. Like most everything these days it’s two sides screaming their positions at each other, not hearing or caring what the other side feels or says.

I have not once on Twitter seen someone say, “That’s a good point” or “I hadn’t thought of that. You’ve changed my mind on this.”

Nope.

It’s pretty much been mud slinging, race baiting, Democrat vs Republican, Trump lovers vs Trump haters, black vs white, woke vs I don’t know what that means, old vs young, conservative vs liberal and on and on and blah blee blah blee blah….

I personally don’t like anyone disrespecting our flag but I respect anyone’s right to do it.

It’s sad that there are black Americans who feel that our flag represents a country that doesn’t treat their race equally. But that’s the case.

I also get that people are offended by kneeling during the Anthem. That flag means something to them. It’s what’s draped over the caskets of our dead soldiers. It’s what people have died for for centuries.

I get that I can’t choose what form of protest people use. I wish it wasn’t the flag but it is. That’s why some soldiers are OK with it because they fought for the freedom to choose your form of protest. It’s what makes America great. We can protest however we want. It’s how we beat England and became The United States of America.

I also get that some soldiers hate it because they fought for that flag. It means something to them. They risked their lives defending that flag and don’t want it disrespected.

I’m not sure if Colin Kaepernick knew how big this would get when he sat then kneeled those first few times. It’s incredible. And it will be interesting to see how this affects Nike. It’ll be a case study for economists: the long-term effects of an advertising campaign based on a polarizing topic.

How many times has the word Nike been written or spoken since the campaign started? They said in the first 24 hours Nike received $43 million in free media advertising. It doesn’t offset their 3.16% stock price hit on the first day of trading but they are in this for the long haul. Analysts feel it will bounce back in a big way. I’m pretty sure they expected to take some hits early on.

I don’t believe their ad campaign is accurate though. Kaepernick didn’t sacrifice everything. He still has millions from his 49ers deal and he’s been getting paid by Nike all this time while he basically sat on the bench for them. All he really sacrificed was a chance to be a backup quarterback in the NFL.

Whether he wanted to or not he’s traded that in to be the face of a movement. He is this century’s Jim Brown only bigger.

He will be a symbol for a long time to come; a symbol that many love and many hate. It’s pretty black and white. There’s not much gray here.

Are you a kneeler or a stander? Are you team Nike now or burning your shoes?

It sure would be nice if we could back on track though. The real issue is still the inequitable treatment of blacks in this country. Anyone remember that? Anyone care to address that instead of this flag thing?

Anyone? Anyone?

Thanks Nike. Just what we needed: more gas on that fire.


 

Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Often times, sports can be a copycat forum. Whether it's trying to replicate an offense, defense, philosophy, or outright style biting, we rarely see anything original. Sports sometimes take their cues from Hollywood. How many remakes of old movies and ideas have we seen? Or, how many different iterations of a successful movie franchise will we continue to get shoved down our throats? (I'm looking at you Fast And Furious. But I'm going to see the new one anyway.)

Every so often, we'll get the pleasure of a trailblazer. Someone who stands out against the crowd and prefers to do something so out of the box, we may choose to fully embrace the different approach, or, we may choose to mock the out of the box ideas. The Texans have chosen to blaze their own trail and go with a general manager by committee for the upcoming season. They came to this conclusion (forced into it) after a failed attempt to woo Nick Caserio away from the Patriots amidst tampering charges. Bill O'Brien, Jack Easterby, Chris Olsen, and Jamey Rootes will all play a part in fulfilling the role of GM. I go back and forth as to whether they've made the right decision and whether or not it'll work. Let's take a look at a few reasons to support both sides of the argument:

Will Work: Three or four heads better than one

Texans Chairman and CEO D. Cal McNair

houstontexans.com

Think back to when you were in school. I know that may be difficult for some of us that are long removed from those days. What was one of your favorite type of assignments? Typically, group assignments were fun because you got to collaborate with others on a project. It worked best if you chose your own group because you knew everyone would pull their weight. This may be the case here, as long as there are clear cut lines in which each person will operate and how tough decisions will be made.

Won't Work: Too many sheriffs, not enough cops

Texans EVP of Team Development Jack Easterby

houstontexans.com

Those same group projects have also been known to cause division, friction, and make getting a good grade nearly impossible. All of the guys on this committee have primary responsibilities. Now they have to take on extra duties. This can lead to some lacking in areas of each of their jobs. We've all experienced a collaborative effort gone wrong. Whether someone didn't pull their weight, or someone was a control freak, there's always a chance of something going awry when multiple people have to come together for a common goal, especially when you're dealing with a bunch of alpha males used to being the in charge of their own lane but forced to cooperate and collaborate with others.

Will Work: Everyone's seats are hot

Texans President Jamey Rootes

houstontexans.com

I grew up respecting the knowledge older people could pass along. I may not have always listened to what they said, but I most definitely absorbed those lessons. One saying I remember and still hold onto is "pressure can make a diamond or crack a pipe." The former is why I think this setup will work. When former GM Brian Gaine was fired late into this offseason, it put everyone on notice that their jobs are also on the line. If this group can feel that heat and use it to fuel them positively, this GM by committee thing can work.

Won't Work: No blueprint or copycat source

Texans Senior VP of Football Operations Chris Olsen

houstontexans.com

Like I said previously, sports are a copycat forum. Usually, there's someone somewhere that's done it before that you can get a few pointers from. Hell, the Texans organization has been trying to replicate what the Patriots have done for almost their whole existence! However, there hasn't been an example that I can think of in which any sports franchise has had a committee of people fill the role of GM instead of a single person. When you have an example to follow, it's similar to having directions on assembling a toy you've bought for your kid. Next time you try putting something together, do it without the instructions and see how easy/difficult it could be.

While the draft and the bulk of free agency has come and gone, there's always work a GM is doing that will help his team. There are always players on other teams to watch in case they're cut. There's also college players to keep an eye on for the upcoming draft, as well as a multitude of other duties an NFL GM has on a daily basis. Information funneled through one person and sent out to others is much more concise than being funneled through several and sent out to many.

Signals can get crossed. Critical steps or info can get missed and/or overlooked. However, we don't know if this will or won't work because we have nothing to base it off of. We will have to wait and see how this plays out. Who knows? We may be on the verge of something new and innovative in sports. We could also be seeing a disaster the likes of which we've never seen. Let's wait and see what happens before we pass judgement.

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