Is a superstar quarterback quietly supporting the most divisive athlete of the modern era?
Colin Kaepernick made headlines again Monday when Nike announced him as one of the faces of its 30-year anniversary “Just Do It” campaign. Tom Brady, QB for the New England Patriots, seemed to throw in his support for Kaepernick when he liked several Instagram posts depicting the new ad, which lauds Kaepernick for standing up—no pun intended—for what he believes in.
Kaepernick has been a controversial figure since 2016 when he used his platform as a professional football player to protest racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem. Many people have responded to Nike’s ad campaign by destroying their Nike gear, trying to send a message to the fitness giant.
— TRUMP ROCKS USA❌ (@Detrocker2264) September 5, 2018
@Nike @Kaepernick7 @nikestore I never really liked your over-priced, low performance shoes anyway but here are your crappy shirts back someone gave me.#burnyournikegear #BurnYourNikes #BurnBabyBurn #notmypaycheck#boycottnike #BoycottNikeJustDoIt#BoycottNFL #AmericaFirst pic.twitter.com/YzUP4ZkEQS
— America Rocks ! (@ShullBrian) September 4, 2018
Brady’s stance on the NFL protests, which have been a topic of controversy since Kaepernick first knelt, has been uncertain for years. His display of a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker in 2015, along with a tweet from the president referring to Brady as a “friend,” have led people to draw conclusions about Brady’s political views. His wife, supermodel Giselle, has even reportedly asked Brady to keep his politics out of the public eye.
Congratulations to Tom Brady on yet another great victory- Tom is my friend and a total winner!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2015
This latest move by Brady may be a supportive statement from one of football’s most prominent figures about Nike’s decision to include Kaepernick in its lineup. Then again, it may not even be Brady himself liking the photos, though he’s been surprisingly vocal and unguarded in recent months via his Instagram. Given how closely curated his public image is, the Insta likes may be all the public gets on the matter from him—but they still speak volumes.