Nate Boyer: Kaepernick’s motives are pure, but he needs to be vocal
U.S. Army Green Beret and former Seahawks player Nate Boyer, who is friends with Colin Kaepernick, it is the word “everything” that doesn’t quite sit right with him in the new Nike campaign featuring the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback.
“Believe in something,” states the print version of the new ad, over a photo of Kaepernick’s face, “even if it means sacrificing everything.”
“It’s dangerous territory to suggest something like that — for me, when I hear ‘sacrifice everything,’ the last thing I think about is money,” Boyer said to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “We’ve been taught that since we were children. Money isn’t everything, and if it’s a matter of sacrificing money or your brand, that’s far different than sacrificing your life.”
Kaepernick gained both admiration and notoriety for his decision to kneel during the national anthem as a protest of violence by police officers against African-Americans.
Boyer, however, pointed out that the U.S. has never before seen “a revolutionary that has a brand sponsorship.”
“He’s obviously a huge advocate and a voice to many voiceless,” he said. “But at the same time, this is a very different situation and they wouldn’t do this if they didn’t think it was profitable … I’m not saying he’s not deserving at all, that’s not what I’m saying — what I’m saying is all of those brands and nonprofits are absolutely capitalizing on his fame.”
Boyer applauded Kaepernick’s cause, noting that “racism absolutely exists” and reiterated to critics that kneeling is a protest against police brutality, not the anthem. He said that while Nike’s motivation is “to sell sneakers,” he believes that his friend’s goals are pure.
“When I sat down with him, I felt this genuineness with him … we had this mutual respect for one another,” he said.
If Kaepernick, who since 2017 has been publicly silent on the subject of his protest, wants to succeed in gaining attention, Boyer said, he is going to have to speak out and engage people in a productive conversation about why he protests.
“I want to see and hear from Colin, truly from Colin and know that it’s Colin, and that takes some vulnerability and a lot of risk,” he said. “Until we see that, it’s going to be hard for a lot of people who disagree with him to even consider what he’s saying to be really from him.”