“Dirty Jobs” star Mike Rowe weighed in on the recent controversy surrounding Nike’s decision to make controversial NFL player Colin Kaepernick the face of the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” campaign.
In response to a fan question, Rowe noted that the company could have avoided politics and used this week to honor a brave American who lost their life during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
In a post on Facebook, the host stopped short of condemning Kaepernick or his decision to kneel during the national anthem as a protest regarding how black people are treated in the U.S. He also noted that Nike is free to use whoever it wants as a spokesperson.
“Nike’s free to celebrate whomever they wish, and Kaepernick is entitled to his opinion–kneeling, standing, or lying down,” the 56-year-old wrote Monday. “But if I was going to put someone’s face on a billboard – someone who epitomized bravery and sacrifice – I might have gone another way, especially this time of year. I might have gone with this guy – Tom Burnett.”
The post was shared along with a picture of Burnett, who died after helping to retake the plane that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. His last conversation with his wife became a matter of public record and he is now remembered for his final words to her, which Rowe posted.
“Tom’s last act on earth was one of the most courageous things imaginable. And his last words to his wife, Deena, are among the most inspiring I’ve ever heard,” he continued.
“Those exact words are at the top of this page, and the bottom. They were spoken seventeen years ago, under conditions I hope to never experience. I’ll never forget Tom’s last words. I hope you won’t either.”
Nike caught backlash from conservatives last week when it announced Kaepernick would be the face of its anniversary campaign. It even released a promotional ad during the first game of the 2018 NFL season. The endorsement from the athletics company renewed the ongoing debate amongst football fans with regards to players kneeling during the national anthem, with one faction calling it peaceful protest and another calling it disrespectful to veterans and the flag.
Rowe, who notoriously stays out of political conversations chose to post the heartfelt message to followers on the 17th anniversary of the attack.