When Nike announced Colin Kaepernick as a spokesman for the company’s “Just Do It” campaign, the ad quickly became controversial, largely for the tagline, which read: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” One person reached out to Mike Rowe, the blue-collar philosopher who became a household name after Dirty Jobs, to see how he felt it.
Kaepernick’s involvement in the campaign created a massive backlash. Some colleges stopped their use of Nike products, while some consumers went as far as to burn their Nike shoes and attire in protest.
Rowe, who is no stranger to political discourse, had yet to chime in on the ad, which was announced approximately a week ago.
However, today, he posted a message on his Facebook account. It featured a question he attributed to Sam Wilder, which read: “You’ve been very quiet about the Kaepernick PR disaster at Nike. Any thoughts?”
“Hi Sam,” Rowe’s response began. “Nike’s free to celebrate whomever they wish, and Kaepernick is entitled to his opinion – kneeling, standing, or lying down.”
While the question asked by Wilder could have encouraged additional discussion of the Kaepernick ad, Rowe instead decided to talk about who he would have selected in lieu of Kaepernick.
“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,” said Rowe.
“I might have gone with this guy – Tom Burnett.”
“Tom’s last act on earth was one of the most courageous things imaginable,” Rowe continued. “And his last words to his wife, Deena, are among the most inspiring I’ve ever heard.”
“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.”
Burnett was on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. As terrorist were hijacking the plane, Burnett was one of the passengers who decided to take action.
He called his wife several times during the flight, providing information about what was occurring so it could be relayed to emergency responders.
Once he and the other passengers determined that the hijackers intended to use the plane as a makeshift weapon, he told his wife that “we can’t wait for the authorities.”
Burnett’s final words to his wife: “We’re going to do something.”
And do something they did. The group of passengers stormed the cockpit, leading the flight to crash in an open field in Pennsylvania. While everyone on board was killed, their decision prevented the plane from heading towards its intended target, which may have been the White House or the Capitol Building.