Adidas wants to sign Colin Kaepernick to an endorsement deal but has held off because the former 49ers quarterback isn’t on an NFL roster, Mark King, president of the athletic apparel and shoe company’s North America division, said Friday in Phoenix.
Adidas doesn’t want to give the impression that it’s “taking advantage of this noise or interest that he had generated,” King said. “If he signs on a team, we would definitely want to sign him.”
King’s remarks came during a question-and-answer session with Kenneth L. Shropshire, CEO of Arizona State University’s Global Sport Institute, at the school’s Global Sport Summit.
King was referencing Kaepernick’s kneeling protests that rocked the nation last year. The demonstrations, in protest of perceived heavy-handed law enforcement tactics in minority communities that included the deaths of several unarmed black men, spread across the NFL, and drew condemnation from social conservatives and President Donald Trump, who considered them unpatriotic.
“We love athletes that have a platform to make the world a better place,” King said. “If they’re an activist in a way that brings attention to something that moves the world forward, even if there’s controversy at that moment, we’re really interested in those athletes because I think it represents the world today.”
He said the position represents a shift over the last three years in which Adidas has come to represent an “intersection between culture and sports.”
“We’re not in the business of activism, we’re in the business of sport, " Kings said. "But allowing our athletes to tell their story, it’s really important to us.”
The summit introduced ASU’s newly formed Global Sport Institute, which aims to convert research into action by making academic findings more easily understood and accessible.
Kaepernick, ESPN has reported, was scheduled to work out for the Seattle Seahawks, but the session was canceled after he declined to say his protests were over.