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Public support for Colin Kaepernick growing, according to new Harris poll

Colin Kaepernick
The majority of people believe Colin Kaepernick, middle, should be given an apology from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, according to a recent Harris poll. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

A Harris poll released Monday shows support for Colin Kaepernick, the former Wolf Pack quarterback who shook the sports world in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem, is growing.

Forbes released data from the poll, which found 61 percent of Americans believe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell owes Kaepernick an apology. The poll surveyed more than 1,000 people last week after Goodell released a video saying, “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.”

Goodell did not mention Kaepernick by name. Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016 when he kneeled during the anthem to draw attention to police brutality of minorities and racial inequality, an issue that has gripped the country the last few weeks. Kaepernick has been blackballed from the league since 2016. He settled a collusion lawsuit against the league in 2019. Terms were not disclosed.

Goodell's video statement is a stark turn for the NFL, which banned kneeling during the anthem in 2018. The Harris poll found 66 percent of people felt Goodell’s statement felt insincere and was done for publicity while 53 percent felt it was “too little too late." The poll was completed before the NFL’s 10-year, $250 million pledge to “support the battle against the ongoing and historic injustices faced by African-Americans.”

Support for Kaepernick's cause is far from unanimous as 31 percent of Harris Poll respondents opposed Goodell’s statement. President Donald Trump has criticized Goodell, too, tweeting: “Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?”

Harris also sampled respondents on Nike's controversial 2018 marketing campaign featuring Kaepernick that included the tag line: “Believe in something. Even if it means losing everything.”

In 2018, Harris found 21 percent of respondents vowed to boycott Nike products after the marketing campaign was released, which is down to 14 percent in the most recent poll. The biggest shift came in seniors (34 percent who would boycott, down from 18 percent) and conservatives (41 percent who would boycott, down from 24 percent)

Nike's overall reputation got a 54 percent positive opinion, up six points from 2018. Under Armour is down eight points to 40 percent; Adidas is down one percent to 51.

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