By SKIP TUCKER, Alabama Daily News featured columnist
Certain people in this great land of ours, by dint of their intelligence, hard work and fortitude, have become Caesars of Capitalism. And so I will render unto Caesar. But when they take paths I despise, I rail against them in my own small way.
I despise ESPN, for many worthy reasons. But in my mind there wrinkles a topsyturvy combination of respect and distaste for Nike, which has managed on occasion, excellent well, to mix pure self-promotion with an authentic eye to positive change.
You may check me on this: when Nike started its Tiger Woods campaign lo, these many years ago, Tiger was already on record saying he didn’t consider himself to be black.
“Growing up, I came up with this name: I’m a `Cablinasian,’ ” Woods said during a taping of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” He said the name best captures his racial makeup: a blend of Caucasian, black, Indian and Asian.”
A few million bucks, here or there, changed that and we’re likely better for it. But it shows what a corporate giant can do.
Nike’s newest big front man, erstwhile NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, is a different story. At heart, I believe him to be a shameless self-promoter with an eye to the main chance. Rather than giving up all, he was never more than a third-rate pro QB who in my opinion whined his way to far greater glory than he would’ve achieved through his limited skillset.
During his brief football career when histrionics rather than his passing kept him on the field, linebacker Clay Matthews put him on his ass one balmy Sunday and, holding him there, whispered his his helmet earhole, “You ain’t no Russell Wilson, bruh.”
I have a friend whose email summed the Nike campaign. He said, “I’ve got a win, win, win. I own Nike stock, which has gone up incrementally and, since I will never buy another Nike product my whole life for me or my kids, I’m saving thousands of dollars. Third, since this lame crap is likely to cause a carry-on by the losers who disrespect what I respect, the pro game might never never recover and I can laugh at their stupidity. I am waaayyy amused.
“What I find sad is that Colin not only didn’t give up everything, he in truth gave up little. His career was basically over. Also, I looked it up and learned that more than 1.1 million American soldiers in fact did give their all, and little plots of earth all over the world hold them, American flags over them. I salute them and our flag. Colin and Nike and ESPN and pro football may kiss my American ass.”
Listen. What Nike is doing is marketing, and they have wizards far smarter than all us suckers will ever be. So while my personal belief is that the corporate giant might have honesty in its marketing, it is marketing. If the ad campaign Research and Development didn’t par, not a single Colin commercial would’ve aired.
If its projections didn’t pan out, and numbers tumbled down, it would leave Colin flat as his passes, and the NFL protesters with him. Anyone who thinks differently is to my mind naive.
I’ve worked in marketing. I assure you that before Colin was hired, Nike spent more on research, field tests, focus groups and profiling than they spent hiring him. Nike took no risk, nor will.
And Nike, doing what it does well as any corporate megalith, honed Colin’s message for him, because it was all over the place. First, it was a protest against supposed police brutality, then it was about the gauzy concept of equality. I’m still not sure who is supposed to be the one to determine if and when we are all equals. Or by what standards?
(By the bye. Baby Boomers other than I might remember the Popeye cartoon that featured The Goon. I knew Colin reminded me of someone.)
As to the chimerical Black Lives Matter theology, which few outside the far left accept as legitimate, claims of reckless police killings, white or black, have dropped precipitously since police started wearing cameras. That is a good thing.
And, importantly, this: FBI numbers show that in the last two years, more than 2,000 black Americans have been killed at the hands of other black people. Name one of the victims. Just do it.
Now we hear Colin has been dating a Muslim. Now, I’m no Islamophobe. All a Muslim need do is stand and pledge allegiance to our flag, which is and will remain the symbol of our country, and I’ll respect it. Same goes for Colin.
It’s my belief that Nike is using or is going to use Colin as a stalking horse to carry out a vendetta against President Trump. (Trump might even take the bait.)
It is all political, and these days politics sells. Just don’t call it courage.
My opinion is that Colin is to courage what swamp gas is to clean, pure, fresh air.
(Next week: Most likely an early ghost story. )
Skip Tucker was editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper, then communications secretary for gubernatorial folks like George McMillan, Charlie Graddick and Jim Folsom. He ran Alabama Voters Against Lawsuit Abuse for in Montgomery for 15 years. He has published one novel, Pale Blue Light, a spy thriller set in The Civil War. He’s now a regular contributor for the Alabama Daily News at www.ALDailyNews.com.