Nike's decision to make Colin Kaepernick the face of their new ad campaign has caused quite a bit of controversy, but this restaurant's reaction crossed a line.
Marilyn Drew Necci | September 5, 2018
Nike’s public revelation Tuesday of their choice to make former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick the face of their new ad campaign has drawn a lot of reactions in all corners of this great big wide internet. One of those came yesterday from sports-themed Roanoke restaurant Beamer’s 25. And regardless of how you feel about Colin Kaepernick and Nike right now, there’s no denying that this post crossed a line into the kind of homophobia that no one on either side of this issue should accept.
Beamer’s 25, which is located in Roanoke and owned by the Parry Restaurant Group in partnership with popular former Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer, shared a post to their facebook page yesterday that featured a meme related to Colin Kaepernick’s Nike ad campaign. The meme consisted of the central image of the new Nike ad campaign — a closeup of Kaepernick’s face — with a slogan added in block capitals. That slogan reads, “Nike Sporting Apparel — For ‘Men’ Who Like To Get Down On Their Knees.”
The reference to kneeling is, of course, an allusion to Kaepernick’s 2016 decision to begin kneeling during the National Anthem at NFL games in protest of police brutality. But the homophobic aspects of this meme — putting “men” in scare-quotes, the reference to men “getting down on their knees” — are undeniable, and were further emphasized by the caption added by the meme’s original poster: “Nike new knee pads … for that Special Moment! That kinda sport that only leads to Colin Cancer.”
Beamer’s 25 has since deleted the derogatory facebook post and replaced it with an apology, which was posted Wednesday morning. “The content posted to our page last night was unacceptable. It does not reflect our views in any way,” the post reads. “A disgruntled employee posted it to our page without our consent, and appropriate action has been taken to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We sincerely apologize for this situation and the hurt that it has caused.”
Some commenters responded with taunts, but most of the replies to the apology expressed relief. One commenter wrote, “I knew you were better than what that post represented. No room for that sort of thing in Roanoke.” Another made an important point about online security, writing, “Serious question: How many of your employees have administrator access to your business’ Facebook page? Because only someone with admin privileges could have posted that.”
Kaepernick’s protest has caused controversy since it began in 2016. While some NFL players joined in the protest, others condemned his decision, and when Kaepernick’s contract ended after the 2016 season, he was unable to get hired at any other NFL team. He has since filed a grievance against the NFL’s owners, accusing them of collusion in preventing him from getting a job with the league.
The controversy spread far beyond the NFL, too, most notably when President Trump got involved. At an Alabama political rally in September 2017, he said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” Reactions to Kaepernick’s protest were far from universally negative, though; Amnesty International giving Kaepernick their Ambassador of Conscience award earlier this year.
Nike’s just-revealed ad campaign plays on a similar angle, using the slogan, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Indeed, this slogan appears in the meme Beamer’s 25 posted. Quite a few people have taken issue with this ad campaign, and videos of people destroying their Nike merchandise have flooded the internet since it was announced. Even President Trump weighed in once again, tweeting, “Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts.”
Of course, we all have our own views about this issue, about Kaepernick, Nike, police brutality and patriotism, all of it. But when people start engaging in homophobic character assassination of people they don’t agree with, it’s always unacceptable.
Correction: this article initially implied that Frank Beamer was the sole owner of Beamer’s 25. It has been updated to reflect the correct information.