Colin Kaepernick is reportedly set to get his own signature shoe next month despite his failed NFL tryout last weekend.
Nike is planning to release the shoe across the United States as it continues to develop its marketing strategy around Kaepernick, industry sources told Yahoo Sports on Thursday.
The shoe is part of a multi-million “star level” dollar endorsement deal the sports gear giant signed with Kaepernick in September 2018, the outlet said. In February, Nike rolled out a $150 Kaepernick-branded “Icon” jersey, which sold out in a matter of hours.
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According to Yahoo Sports, Nike is anticipating similarly high demand for the shoe, and has ramped up production figures in the course of development.
It was unclear how many Kaepernick jerseys were actually sold, and sources declined to say how many shoes would be going on sale.
Carolina Panthers defensive back Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s friend and former teammate, appeared to tease the shoes on Instagram last Sunday.
Eric Reid shares an early look at the upcoming @Kaepernick7 x Nike Air Force 1 Low. pic.twitter.com/aoLWriRGnM
— B/R Kicks (@brkicks) November 17, 2019
Colin ‘Kunta Kinte’ Kaepernick
A day earlier, Kaepernick, 32, was spotted apparently wearing a pair of the shoes at a workout he held near Atlanta. He staged the event hours after blowing off a planned tryout for about 25 NFL teams, complaining of the league’s terms.
Only a few scouts followed Kaepernick to the new location, but the media turned out en force.
Kaepernick showed up wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “Kunta Kinte,” the name of a fictional American slave made famous by the 1977 “Roots” TV miniseries. He told assembled reporters that he is ready to play “anywhere” in the NFL but the league is “running” from him. Kaepernick has long alleged that the NFL is blackballing him because of his activism.
Jeff Nalley, Kaepernick’s agent, told ESPN that he sent footage of his client’s workout to all 32 NFL teams. But he said no one had expressed interest.
“I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit pessimistic because I’ve talked to all 32 teams,” he said. “I’ve reached out to them recently, and none of them have had any interest.”
According to ESPN’s Howard Bryant, Nalley also said Kaepernick is considering following the NFL owners to their March meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, and holding a second workout nearby.
Nalley did not respond to Pluralist’s request for comment.
While supporters hailed Kaepernick for once again standing up to the league, the tryout stunt earned blowback from a number of prominent black sports commentators, including ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
“You don’t wanna work. You just wanna make noise, and you wanna control the narrative,” Smith said in a Twitter video last Saturday. “It’s over. Colin Kaepernick’s aspiration in the NFL, for an NFL career. It’s over.”
How Colin Kaepernick got a shoe deal with Nike
Kaepernick hasn’t been on an NFL roster since the 2016 season, when he started kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against black Americans. He became a free agent after the season.
Nike’s alliance with the quarterback-turned-activist has proved controversial from the start. The deal has thrilled fans who see Kaepernick as a social justice hero and angered critics who accuse him of disrespecting flag and country. President Donald Trump has accused Kaepernick of being unpatriotic and urged the NFL to crack down on demonstrations.
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Ahead of the Fourth of July, Nike faced backlash for canceling the release of Betsy Ross flag-themed sneakers, reportedly after Kaepernick raised concerns that the Revolutionary era-symbol was racist.
In October 2017, after going unsigned as a free agent, Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance against NFL owners. The two sides resolved the grievance in February under a confidentiality agreement.
(Reuters contributed to this report)