DAVIE, Fla. — Miami Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills says he's encouraged by Nike's new endorsement deal with his friend and fellow activist Colin Kaepernick, and wishes the NFL would show similar support for their cause.
Kaepernick, a leader of the movement against social injustice that has prompted player protests during the national anthem, is among the faces of Nike's 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign.
The sports apparel giant has unveiled its first TV ad in the campaign, narrated by Kaepernick and scheduled to air during major sporting events.
"I'm really encouraged by it," Stills said Thursday. "Those are things that really brighten people's day in a time that there are not many things to be happy about."
Stills began kneeling during the anthem in 2016 and has been vocal discussing racial inequality and other issues. The player protests have become a divisive topic of debate, and the NFL and players union still haven't said whether players will be punished this season if they choose to kneel or demonstrate during the anthem.
"The NFL could've done a better job of controlling the narrative from the beginning," Stills said. "I think if the NFL did something like Nike did — some sort of campaign, explain this whole situation, have our backs, supporting us and our First Amendment right — then this thing would've gone in a whole different direction."
Stills, who talks often with Kaepernick, said he senses increasing support for the protesters as their cause is better understood.
Receiver Albert Wilson and defensive end Robert Quinn joined Stills in protesting before Dolphins games during the exhibition season, and are expected to continue their protests at the team's season opener Sunday against Tennessee.
Wilson, who has a contract with Nike, also applauded the company's deal with Kaepernick.
"I think it's awesome they're stepping up and spreading awareness," Wilson said. "For somebody to be so big, you can't ask nothing for it. You can't do nothing but respect them."