TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has become larger than football since he refused to stand two years ago as the National Anthem played before NFL games.
Now, he's the new face of Nike's 30th anniversary ad campaign.
This decision by the sporting goods giant has sparked a mixed reaction on social media, some calling Kaepernick a hero and others saying they plan to boycott Nike.
Meanwhile, a professor at Florida State University says this goes much deeper than an ad campaign.
Two years ago, former 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee on the sidelines during the National Anthem before NFL games, protesting police brutality and racial injustice towards African Americans and other minorities.
In part, because of his protest, Kaepernick has been out of football since 2016.
Now, days before the start of the 2018 NFL seasons, Kaepernick is the face of a new 30th anniversary Nike ad campaign, with the tag line, "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything."
"I don't necessarily think they just are trying to create controversy but rather engage in a conversation," said Dr. Michael Giardina, a professor of sports management.
A conversation that received both positve and negative feedback on social media.
Tennis star Serena Williams tweeted, 'Especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today. hashtag just do it' and the New York Giants' wide receiver tweeted, 'It's a crazy dream until you do it.' All in support of Kaepernick.
"Nike is a $120 billion company," said Dr. Giardina. "They don't need to buy publicity just to get their name in the paper."
Giardina says he thinks the person who Kaepernick is and what he stands for is the reason for Nike choose him.
"Nike did more than just sell some shoes, or even sell an identity, but they contributed to a larger cultural conversation about maybe the state of politics in the current moment," said Dr. Giardina.
Meanwhile, at the close of the stock market, Nike stock is down about 3 percent.