Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was back in the news this week after Nike pulled a shoe featuring an American Revolution-era U.S. flag, and a Chicago Cubs affiliate shared its opinions of that decision this week.
The Double-A Tennessee Smokies posted a series of photos on Twitter Wednesday after the grounds crew put an American flag design into the infield dirt at their home stadium.
The photos were accompanied by a caption addressed to Kaepernick, saying “after a lot of thought, we have decided it’s best to just do it:”
The tweet stirred passions on both sides of the debate, with fans either praising the decision as “patriotic” or deriding the tweet and calling on the club to delete it.
Later in the evening, the team's social media editors deleted the tweet, saying that they "apologize" to anyone offended:
"It was meant to be a light-hearted take on a current situation," the team said on social media. "We did not mean to offend anyone by it. If it did, we certainly apologize."
The controversy began earlier this month when Nike decided to pull a shoe that featured the Betsy Ross-designed American flag, complete with 13 stars for the original 13 colonies. Some activists have stated that the flag has been co-opted by white supremacist groups, as it hearkens back to a time where slavery was allowed in the United States, but other groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, do not include it in a database on hate symbols, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“We view it as essentially an innocuous historical flag,” Senior Research Fellow Mark Pitcavage told the newspaper.
The decision sparked a wave of outrage, with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announcing that his administration would pull state incentives given to Nike to build a plant in the state.
Nike has stood by the decision, saying that they are “proud” of their American heritage.
NBC 5 has reached out to the Cubs for comment.