All Things Soldier: Kyle On Kaepernick

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

When Master Colin first took a knee, I experienced a number of emotions. First, I was grateful that I no longer felt like he did, and was reminded that from 1963 until 1972, when I was doing hard time in “Snowflake-ville,” I would have felt his actions to be appropriate. It is only by grace that I am not still in the same place. Second, I was glad I got to spend three years in Iraq saying “Thank you” to as many soldiers as I could for protecting my right to be formerly out-loud whiney. And third, I was frustrated about the virtual vitriol that seemed endemic; for sure I didn’t want my words to increase the volume.

So, when Nike decided to make Master Colin their “face of true sacrifice,” I spent several hours pondering what I was going to say for this edition’s Soldier, trying to find a way to talk about it without setting anyone’s shoes on fire, symbolically speaking. So it is with great joy that the rest of this article is given to a woman who knows a thing or two about sacrifice — Taya Kyle, widow of slain warrior, Chris Kyle.

“Nike, I love your gear, but you exhaust my spirit on this one. Your new ad with Colin Kaepernick, I get the message, but that sacrificing everything thing…. It just doesn’t play out here. Sacrificing what exactly? A career? I’ve done that both times I chose to stay home and be with my kids instead of continuing my business climb… and it wasn’t sacrificing everything. It was sacrificing one career and some money and it was because of what I believe in and more importantly, who I believe in.

At best, that is all Colin sacrificed… some money and it’s debatable if he really lost his career over it. Maybe he sacrificed the respect of some people while he gained the respect of others. Or maybe he used one career to springboard himself into a different career when the first was waning. I don’t know. What I do know is, he gained popularity and magazine covers he likely wouldn’t have gotten without getting on his knees or as you say, “believing in something.” I’m also thinking the irony is that while I am not privy to the numbers, it’s likely he gained a lucrative Nike contract. So yeah… that whole “sacrificing everything” is insulting to those who really have sacrificed everything.

You want to talk about someone in the NFL sacrificing everything? Pat Tillman. NFL STARTING, not benched, player who left to join the Army and died for it. THAT is sacrificing everything for something you believe in.

How about other warriors? Warriors who will not be on magazine covers, who will not get lucrative contracts and millions of followers from their actions and who have truly sacrificed everything. They did it because they believed in something. Take it from me, when I say they sacrificed everything, they also sacrificed the lives of their loved ones who will never be the same. THAT is sacrificing everything for something they believe in.

Did you get us talking? Yeah, you did. But, your brand recognition was strong enough. Did you teach the next generation of consumers about true grit? Not that I can see.

Taking a stand, or rather a knee, against the flag which has covered the caskets of so many who actually did sacrifice everything for something they believe in, that we all believe in? Well, the irony of your ad…it almost leaves me speechless. Were you trying to be insulting?

Maybe you are banking on the fact we won’t take the time to see your lack of judgment in using words that just don’t fit. Maybe you are also banking on us not seeing Nike as kneeling before the flag. Or maybe you want us to see you exactly that way. I don’t know. All I know is, I was actually in the market for some new kicks and at least for now, I’ve never been more grateful for Under Armour.”

Well, Miss Taya, you nailed it, and once again I thank you for being the classy lady that you are. You continue to do Chris and all of us proud. And Nike, as of this writing, the gamble you took has cost you 4 billion dollars and created some really unhappy stockholders. My question is, was it worth it?
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner