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said. ”We just have to be better.”

 
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said. ”We just have to be better.”
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An endorsement deal between Nike and Colin Kaepernick prompted a flood of debate Tuesday as sports fans reacted to the apparel giant backing an athlete known mainly for starting a wave of protests among NFL players of police brutality Bryan Bulaga Jersey , racial inequality and other social issues.
The deal unveiled by Nike and the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback was a trending topic on Twitter and other social networks, with some fans urging a boycott of the company’s clothes and sneakers — even burning and cutting out the signature swoosh logos on their gear.
Others pushed back, saying the backlash against Nike showed the polarizing debate has morphed well beyond whether NFL players should be allowed to demonstrate for social causes while the national anthem plays in stadiums before games.
The league itself weighed in Tuesday afternoon with an executive saying the social issues Kaepernick has raised are valid.
“We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities,” said Jocelyn Moore, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications and public affairs. “The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”
Moore’s statement was paired with a detailed breakdown of things players and league executives have done together to learn about and address social issues, including community meetings, lobbying and financially supporting local programs.
On Twitter, country music star John Rich posted a picture of one of his crew members holding the tops of a cut pair of Nike socks, with the caption: “Get ready @Nike multiply that by the millions.” The tweet garnered about 10,000 retweets and 30,000 likes, plus thousands of critical comments.
Rich, part of the duo Big & Rich and a former contestant of President Donald Trump’s reality show “The Celebrity Apprentice,” said he supported the right to protest but Nike lost his support when it endorsed Kaepernick.
Mixed martial arts fighter Elias Theodorou, a UFC middleweight Jordan Reed Jersey , tweeted a widely shared picture of the Nike logo with a meme that read: “Instead of throwing away your Nike gear give to one of the millions of homeless veterans you pretend to care about.”
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said: “I hope other corporations follow (Nike’s) example.”
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, tweeted: “Proud to be an @usnikefootball athlete. Stand for something or fall for anything. Few moments in history has that been more true!”
Trump, a frequent critic of protesting NFL players, said Tuesday in an interview with the Daily Caller that he thinks it’s a “terrible message” for Nike to use Kaepernick in ads, but that it’s their decision whether to use the quarterback.
“I think it’s a terrible message that they’re sending and the purpose of them doing it, maybe there’s a reason for them doing it,” Trump said, adding it’s “a message that shouldn’t be sent.”
Trump said it’s ultimately a business decision for Nike.
“In another way, it is what this country is all about, that you have certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn’t do, but I personally am on a different side of it,” he said.
Trump has loudly urged the league to suspend or fire players who demonstrate during the anthem, repeatedly diving into what has developed into one of the most contentious debates in sports.
Kaepernick already had a deal with Nike that was set to expire, but it was renegotiated into a multiyear deal to make him one of the faces of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, according to a person familiar with the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Nike hasn’t officially announced the contract.
The person said Nike will feature Kaepernick on several platforms, including billboards Lorenzo Alexander Jersey , television commercials and online ads. Nike also will create an apparel line for Kaepernick, including a signature shoe, and contribute to his Know Your Rights charity, the person said. The deal puts Kaepernick in the top bracket of NFL players with Nike.
“I stand for anybody that believes in change. I stand for anybody that believes in a positive attitude,” LeBron James said Tuesday night at a Nike fashion show and awards ceremony in New York. “I stand with Nike, every day, all day.”
Nike also provides all NFL teams with game day uniforms and sideline apparel, a partnership that was extended in March to run through 2028.
Last week, Kaepernick scored a legal victory in his grievance against the NFL and its 32 teams when an arbitrator allowed his case to continue to trial. The quarterback claims that owners conspired to keep him out of the league because of his protests. His case hinges on whether owners worked together rather than decided individually to not sign Kaepernick.
A similar grievance is still pending by former 49ers teammate Eric Reid, a Pro Bowl safety who joined in the protests.
Meanwhile, the league and players union still haven’t resolved whether players will be punished this season if they choose to kneel or demonstrate during the national anthem. Owners approved a policy requiring players to stand if they are on the sideline during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” allowing them to stay off the field if they wish.
But the league and union put that on hold after the Miami Dolphins faced backlash for classifying the protests as conduct potentially detrimental to the team — putting players at risk of fines or suspensions.
The bookies in this gambling city have to be getting a bit nervous. Hockey fans, though, are nothing short of ecstatic.
They screamed, danced and cheered as the goals came one right after another in a first period blitz Thursday night as the Vegas Golden Knights remained undefeated in the playoffs by dominating the San Jose Sharks 7-0 in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals.
The hottest show on the Las Vegas Strip got even hotter as the Knights – who were 200-1 at many sports books to win the Stanley Cup before the season began – opened their second playoff series with a rout of the Sharks that was over before the Zambonis hit the ice.
This had nothing to do with the so-called Vegas Flu that has overcome some visiting teams who might have not resisted some of the pleasures on the Las Vegas Strip. This was a simple beat down, by a group of players who had never been together on the ice before the season began.
”It’s not going to be like this every night Montae Nicholson Jersey ,” Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said. ”We’re going to enjoy this and move on.”
Once again, the Knights played like no expansion team ever before. Once again, they showed that perhaps the fantasy of bringing the Stanley Cup to the Las Vegas Strip may not be such a fantasy after all.
And once again, 18,444 fans sang ”Viva Las Vegas” and went home happy – but not before watching Fleury join them in doing the wave in the closing minutes.
”It’s a great home crowd,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. ”We like them a lot.”
There’s a lot to like about a team that a year ago was nothing more than an expansion project with an uncertain future. Now the Knights are tearing through the playoffs like a hot dice thrower at the craps table.
That might be a problem at the sports books, which are on the hook for possibly millions if the Knights should win it all. But it’s playing out nicely around the rest of Las Vegas, which is awash in Knights merchandise as the city that has never had a major sports team eagerly embraces one that is its very own.
If getting to the playoffs was seen as almost impossible before the season began, the Knights are 5-1 in sports books on the Strip to win it all, just behind Nashville and Tampa Bay as favorites.
With good reason. The Knights are the only remaining unbeaten team in the playoffs, and have the hottest goalie around. Fleury, picked up from Pittsburgh in the expansion draft, got his third shutout of the playoffs and has allowed only three goals in five games.
He didn’t allow any against the Sharks, stopping 33 shots to record the shutout.
”I don’t go looking at my stats,” Fleury said. ”A win is a win and I’ll try my best to get my team a win. That’s what it’s all about.”
The team that proudly declares itself Vegas Born thrilled a raucous crowd at the T-Mobile arena, scoring three goals within a span of 1:31 in the first period to pretty much put the game away early.
Against a team that – like the Knights – swept their opening series Pat O'Donnell Jersey , they turned the game into a rout early. Seven players scored goals, though with Fleury in net there was no way seven would be needed.
”You don’t get extra points for winning by a touchdown like they did,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. ”We just have to be better.”
Earlier, Knights general manager George McPhee talked about how good the team he put together might be. But even he had to be surprised at the ease the Knights, coming off a nine-day layoff after sweeping the Los Angeles Kings, won their second-round opener.
”We think we’re a pretty good club but we’ll keep trying to do what we do and see where it takes us,” McPhee said. ”We haven’t really looked at the season in its totality before it started, or the playoffs in its totality.”
The formula for the Knights has been as simple as it has been effective. With some top talent there for the taking in the expansion draft the Knights combined a fast, swarming attack with stellar work of Fleury to win their division.
Nothing changed in the opening game against the Sharks except the goals came early and often.
”We play fast, we play quick, we play direct hockey,” Gallant said. ”So far it’s worked for us.”
The Knights have done all of that, and more to move into the serious conversation about what teams can win the Stanley Cup.
If any more proof was needed, even the bookies are believers now.
—-
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or  Womens Tarvarius Moore Jersey

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