Kaepernick critics use the image of deceased NFL star and Army hero Pat Tillman on social media

Fallout from Nike’s new series of ‘Just Do It’ ads featuring Colin Kaepernick has gotten heated on social media, where critics of the campaign have been using the image of deceased former Arizona Cardinals safety and Army Ranger Pat Tillman to protest the controversial free agent quarterback.

In 2004, Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan after stepping away from his NFL career to enlist in the Army following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Nike’s billboard ad features a picture of Kaepernick’s face with a caption reading: ‘Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt.’

Outrage over Nike’s choice of a spokesman has been widespread across social media. Critics have been seen burning or destroying Nike gear while using the ‘#BoycottNike’ hashtag. Some have even pledged to buy nothing but Converse sneakers going forward, apparently unaware that Nike also owns that iconic brand.

One consistent theme has been the use of Tillman’s image. Some have even posted their own version of the Nike ad, featuring the former Pro Bowl safety’s face instead of Kaepernick.

One consistent theme if critics has been the use of Pat Tillman's image on social media. Some have even posted their own version of the Nike ad, featuring the former Pro Bowl safety's face instead of Kaepernick, who remains unpopular with many Americans because of his protests 

One consistent theme if critics has been the use of Pat Tillman's image on social media. Some have even posted their own version of the Nike ad, featuring the former Pro Bowl safety's face instead of Kaepernick, who remains unpopular with many Americans because of his protests 

One consistent theme if critics has been the use of Pat Tillman’s image on social media. Some have even posted their own version of the Nike ad, featuring the former Pro Bowl safety’s face instead of Kaepernick, who remains unpopular with many Americans because of his protests 

Despite the use of her late husband's image by many conservatives, Marie Tillman, the widow of Pat Tillman, has asked that his memory Tillman 'never be politicized in a way that divides us'

Despite the use of her late husband's image by many conservatives, Marie Tillman, the widow of Pat Tillman, has asked that his memory Tillman 'never be politicized in a way that divides us'

Despite the use of her late husband’s image by many conservatives, Marie Tillman, the widow of Pat Tillman, has asked that his memory Tillman ‘never be politicized in a way that divides us’

Kaepernick has been a controversial figure since the 2016 NFL preseason when, as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, he refused to stand during the national anthem as a way to protest inequality and police brutality against minorities.

And although he has remained a free agent since March of 2017, scores of other NFL players have continued the protests in his place, all in the face of intense criticism. Even President Donald Trump has referred to protesting NFL players as ‘sons of b******.’

Nearly one year ago, Trump retweeted a post that used Tillman’s image while attacking protesting NFL players.

Tillman’s widow Marie released a statement to CNN at the time, insisting that Tillman ‘should never be politicized in a way that divides us.’

‘The very action of self-expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for,’ she wrote. ‘Even if they didn’t always agree with those views.’

While the NFL distances itself from Colin Kaepernick, Nike has embraced the controversial former 49ers star

While the NFL distances itself from Colin Kaepernick, Nike has embraced the controversial former 49ers star

While the NFL distances itself from Colin Kaepernick, Nike has embraced the controversial former 49ers star

Despite Marie Tillman’s hope that her husband’s image was not used in opposition to free speech, Fox News’ Stephen Miller was one of many to compare Kaepernick unfavourably to the NFL legend: ‘Just putting it out there that Pat Tillman sacrificed just a *bit more than Colin Kaepernick.’

Miller’s Tweet received significant criticism from such esteemed journalists as Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden.

‘Pat Tillman, who I met and profiled, was smart, thoughtful and principled, with zero tolerance for b.s.,’ wrote Layden. ‘It’s sickening that anyone would weaponize his name for low-rent trolling, when PT isn’t here to speak for himself.’

Brandon Friedman, whose Twitter bio lists him as a veteran, also weighed in against Miller’s ‘Just putting it out there’ Tweet.

‘Just putting it out there that Pat Tillman vehemently opposed everything you stand for and you’re garbage for invoking him or any other dead soldier to further the idea that peaceful protest is anything other than patriotic,’ wrote Friedman.

On Tuesday afternoon, the NFL released its own statement amidst the growing controversy. 

‘The National Football League believes in dialogue, understanding and unity. 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.’ 

Stephen Miller of Fox News was one of many who referenced Pat Tillman to make a point about Nike's new 'Just Do It' ad campaign, which features former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick 

Stephen Miller of Fox News was one of many who referenced Pat Tillman to make a point about Nike's new 'Just Do It' ad campaign, which features former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick 

Stephen Miller of Fox News was one of many who referenced Pat Tillman to make a point about Nike’s new ‘Just Do It’ ad campaign, which features former 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick 

Stephen Miller's Tweet about Pat Tillman received significant criticism from such esteemed journalists as Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden, who called Miller's post 'sickening'

Stephen Miller's Tweet about Pat Tillman received significant criticism from such esteemed journalists as Sports Illustrated's Tim Layden, who called Miller's post 'sickening'

Stephen Miller’s Tweet about Pat Tillman received significant criticism from such esteemed journalists as Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden, who called Miller’s post ‘sickening’

Brandon Friedman, whose Twitter bio lists him as a veteran, also weighed in against Miller's 'Just putting it out there' Tweet

Brandon Friedman, whose Twitter bio lists him as a veteran, also weighed in against Miller's 'Just putting it out there' Tweet

Brandon Friedman, whose Twitter bio lists him as a veteran, also weighed in against Miller’s ‘Just putting it out there’ Tweet

DISGUSTED NIKE CUSTOMERS BURN SNEAKERS TO PROTEST DECISION TO SIGN KAEPERNICK  

Just hours after Colin Kaepernick was announced as the face of Nike’s new Just Do It campaign, people began to protest.

Nike customers upset at the decision took to Twitter and shared videos of them destroying their apparel.

Many clips showed people setting their sneakers and clothes on fires while others cut their socks.

John Rich, one half of the country band Big & Rich, said their soundman, a former Marine, had cut off the famous swoosh logo from his socks.

Veterans organization Vote Vets urged  critics to donate their items rather than burn them.

This Twitter user put a pair of Nike sneakers in a burner 

This man was seen dousing his Nike apparel in oil and setting it alight 

This man was seen dousing his Nike apparel in oil and setting it alight 

This man was seen dousing his Nike apparel in oil and setting it alight 

Vote Vets urged people protesting against Nike to donate their items instead of burning them 

Vote Vets urged people protesting against Nike to donate their items instead of burning them 

Vote Vets urged people protesting against Nike to donate their items instead of burning them 

John Rich, one half of the country band Big & Rich, showed that their soundman has destroyed his socks in response 

John Rich, one half of the country band Big & Rich, showed that their soundman has destroyed his socks in response 

John Rich, one half of the country band Big & Rich, showed that their soundman has destroyed his socks in response 

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