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    As Colin Kaepernick watched from the apparel giant's headquarters in Oregon Youth Taven Bryan Jersey , Nike aired its highly anticipated ad featuring the quarterback known for his social protests during the NFL season opener Thursday night.

     

    The spot highlighting the former 49ers quarterback locked in a grievance with the league aired during the first ad break in the third quarter of the Eagles-Falcons game, which started with no overt demonstrations by players during the national anthem.

    A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Kaepernick was watching the ad's first television airing on NBC at an event held at Nike's world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the visit were not announced publicly.

    Still, some attendees posted accounts of the visit on social media, including video of Kaepernick speaking to a crowd Thursday several hours before the ad aired.

    "You have to think beyond what you see around you," said Kaepernick, who hasn't spoken to the media publicly since opting out of his contract with San Francisco and becoming a free agent in 2017.

    "You have to see the future that you believe in and that you want not just for yourself but all the people you see globally," he said.

    Kaepernick's deal with Nike for the 30th anniversary of the "Just Do It" campaign was the most polarizing issue in sports this week, prompting heated debate on several topics including athletes protesting social injustice and Nike wading into political waters. Some fans responded to Kaepernick's sponsorship deal by cutting or burning gear with Nike's signature swoosh logo. Others argued the backlash and calls for a Nike boycott showed how debate has morphed beyond how to react to athletes trying to highlight issues like racial inequality and police shootings of unarmed minorities.

    "I don't like what Nike did. I don't think it's appropriate what they did," President Donald Trump said in an interview with Fox News before a rally in Montana. "I honor the flag. I honor our national anthem and most of the people in this country feel the same way."

    There were no clear-cut protests as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played before the game with both teams on the field and the song broadcasted nationally.

    Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Michael Bennett were on the sideline and neither really demonstrated during the song. Jenkins and Bennett regularly have either knelt or stayed off the field during the anthem to protest social injustice and racial inequality. They have been among the most vocal protesters since Kaepernick began similar demonstrations in 2016. Jenkins stood with teammates while Bennett wandered behind them near the Eagles bench and adjusted his equipment.

    Jenkins said he thinks players should shift the focus of the debate away from the anthem itself and back to the issues they are trying to highlight.

    "I think there's a huge need for us to turn the attention to not only the issues, but what players are actually doing in their communities to promote change Authentic Josh Allen Jersey ," he said. "We're trying to move past the rhetoric of what's right or what's wrong in terms of the anthem and really focus on the systematic issues that are plaguing our communities."

    No Falcons players were absent from the sideline and none has protested in the recent past.

    The anthem has been a particularly thorny issue for the NFL, especially Trump urging owners to bench or fire players who demonstrate. Players say their message has been misconstrued into something against the American flag or the military.

    Kaepernick's grievance against the league and team owners accuses owners of colluding to keep him off any roster. An arbitrator gave Kaepernick an incremental victory by allowing the challenge to go to trial.

    Jenkins said Nike's commercial is changing the portrayal of Kaepernick in the public eye.

    "Quite frankly, long after all of this is done (Kaepernick) will be looked at as somebody that changed this sport and changed the dynamics of all athletes in general in our country," Jenkins said.

    The league and players union still haven't resolved whether players will be punished this season if they choose to kneel or demonstrate during the anthem. Owners approved a policy requiring players to stand if they are on the sideline during the song, allowing them to stay off the field if they wish.

    But the league and union put that on hold after the Miami Dolphins faced backlash for classifying the protests as conduct potentially detrimental to the team 鈥?putting players at risk of fines or suspensions.

    AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and sports writer Ben Nuckols contributed to this report.

     

    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona wide receiver Greg Little has not caught a pass in the NFL since 2014 but the down time has not prevented him from making a strong impression in training camp this summer.

    If that continues, Little could find himself in the hunt for a starting position with a Cardinals team with no clear-cut favorite to pair with Larry Fitzgerald.

    Little thinks about that every night.

    “Every night before I go to bed, just try to realize and reflect and just kind of meditate a little bit about my journey and where I am and come out each day and try to get better,” Little said. “How long it took and what’s left on the plate for me to still accomplish and still go out and do it. Just try to achieve that each day.”

    Wide receiver Brice Butler, a free agent signee from Dallas, is listed No. 1 on the depth chart with Fitzgerald. Among the other competitors are holdovers J.J. Nelson and Chad Williams and second-round draft pick Christian Kirk http://www.panthersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-dj-moore-jersey , who appears to have secured a spot on the roster as the primary punt returner. Fitzgerald and Nelson are the only returnees with as many as 20 receptions in 2017.

    The 29-year-old Little has 161 receptions in four NFL seasons, the first three with Cleveland after the Browns took him in the second round in 2011 out of North Carolina. He started 41 of 48 games with the Browns and was targeted more than 90 times each year, topping out at 61 receptions for 709 yards as a rookie. He led the team in catches his first two years.

    After being cut by the Browns, he had six catches in six games with Cincinnati in 2014 and has not played in a regular-season game since. He spent time on the Bengals’ practice squad in 2015 and was in Buffalo’s training camp in 2016 before being released.

    Little, 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, arrived in Arizona with little fanfare, candidly acknowledging the Cardinals were the only team that showed interest. After opening eyes at a rookie minicamp, he was intriguing enough to be asked back.

    “The biggest thing that you see when he is out there, he does a tremendous job of catching the ball in traffic,” Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said. “Big body. Can really create that separation. There are tight windows in this league, so you have to have receivers that can do those kinds of things. That is one of the things that stands out with Greg.”

    Cardinals safety Antoine Bethea Kyle Turris Jersey , who has played 13 seasons, has seen the same thing.

    “When he was at UNC, he was a beast,” Bethea said. “He’s definitely doing some good things out there, jumping out on film. Good strong hands. Running good routes. After three years and coming out here and looking really good, I’m excited to see him out there.”

    Little’s time in Cleveland was up and down. He was among the league leaders in dropped passes in his three years. He also seemed to clash with head coach Mike Pettine. Little said Pettine did not communicate well, although other players came to Pettine’s defense.

    “Just a number of things that kind of led me to this position,” Little said. “I’m here now. I just want to make the best of it. I’m confident in my ability to still play this game.”

    A large support group of family and friends helped him make it through the last few seasons, Little said, even if the games themselves were difficult to watch.

    “Sometimes I didn’t watch at all,” he said.

    Being back on the field “makes you appreciate the privilege it is to be in the NFL. Once you understand that Adolphus Washington Jersey , then all the other noise doesn’t bother you.”

    He said he views this as a final opportunity, but mainly because of the potential for injury.

    “I’m going to take that approach, being that the nature of this game as physical as it is, you have to,” Little said. “Obviously, it’s a reality for anybody that is playing this game.”

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