Sherry Potter, the widow of fallen police officer Tim Graham, took to Facebook this week after Nike made Colin Kaepernick their new poster boy. Sherry shared a photo that instantly humiliated Kaepernick and left Nike speechless in the process.
In the wake of Nike’s announcement that Colin Kaepernick would serve as the poster boy for the company’s 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” campaign, the company has lost revenue and favorability. And what seems to have alienated consumers the most is the assertion that Kaepernick somehow “sacrificed everything” for what he believes in.
In reality, Colin Kaepernick has sacrificed absolutely nothing. In fact, he has gained more fame, fortune, and notoriety than he ever would have on the football field, as he was only an average player, at best. So to say he has “sacrificed everything” for what he believes in, when others have actually died fighting for much more noble causes, has understandably infuriated much of the public.
Sherry Potter is someone who understands deeply what it actually means to sacrifice everything. She was newly married with two young children when she received a knock at the door one day and her life was never the same. The person on the other side of that door informed her that her police officer husband had died in the line of duty, just one day after they had toasted their one-month wedding anniversary.
After Nike’s announcement this week, Sherry took to Facebook to share her story about what it really means to sacrifice everything. She had the perfect picture to go along with her caption: The worn old Nike hat she had donned on her runs for the last 13 years as she tried desperately to regain her sanity.
“Dear Nike,” Sherry wrote in a Facebook post that has since gone viral. “I want to have a conversation about this hat. It’s over 13 years old. I don’t remember when I bought it exactly, I don’t remember where I bought it. But what I do remember is why I wore it.”
“On August 10, 2005, I was a newlywed with two young sons,” Sherry explained. “My husband Tim and I had toasted our one month anniversary the night before, and I was enjoying a rare evening to myself, catching up on reading and relishing the quiet. Until there was a knock on my door. I had no way of knowing that the small act of turning a knob was about to shatter my life into a million pieces.”
“I sat numb and in sheer disbelief as I was told that my husband, while in a foot pursuit and subsequent struggle with a suspect that ended up in the road, had been struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle. He took his last breath lying in the middle of the street,” she wrote.
“What I lost in that moment is indescribable. I had to watch his mother be dealt the most agonizing blow a parent can face, and I couldn’t comfort her because I was in my own hell,” added the widow. “I had to find a way to gut my own children in the gentlest way possible, and tell them that this man they had come to love, who they looked up to, who cared for them as his own, would never walk through our door again.”
“I don’t know if you’ve ever attended a police funeral, but watching grown men who’ve seen the absolute worst things a civilian can imagine, break down and sob over the casket of their brother is an image that never leaves you,” wrote Sherry. “The bagpipes haunt my dreams to this day, but it was the faces of my children, the innocence that abandoned them at such a tender age that brought me to my knees.”
“I had no choice but to move on,” she continued. “We trudged zombie-like through our days for weeks and weeks on end. I never left the house except to drive the boys to school, or buy food we barely touched. I realized that I had to do something. I had to move my body or I was going to crawl out of my own skin.”
“So I put on the only cap I had and I went for a run,” Sherry explained. “It was short, it hurt and it was ugly. But I felt, just for those few moments on that road, like a normal person. So I kept doing it. I put that hat on and I ran every day. Sometimes I had to stop and sit down because I was sobbing so hard. Sometimes I was so angry I ran until I thought my heart would stop, sometimes I would just scream over and over again, but it still felt better than doing nothing.”
“That black cap became a symbol to me, it is sweat-stained and its shape is gone, the buckle in the back barely closes; but that hat represents my family’s rise from the ashes,” she wrote. “It stands for the strength and the sacrifice we made loving a man who had a job that we all knew could end his life, every time he walked out that door. And it did. And I accept that. I still wear this hat, I wore it on my run this morning. And then I heard about your new ad campaign.”
“Colin Kaepernick has the absolute right to protest anything he damn well pleases,” Sherry added. “I don’t dispute that for one second. My father, my husband and many, many friends have all served this country and were willing to fight for his right to kneel. But that right goes both ways. I also have a right to express my disgust at your decision to portray him as some kind of hero.”
“What, exactly has Colin Kaepernick sacrificed?” she wondered. “His multi-million dollar paycheck…? Nope, you already gave him one of those. His reputation? No, he’s been fawned over by celebrities and media alike. Funny, Tim Tebow was never called courageous when he knelt.”
“This man, whose contempt for law enforcement fits him like a…sock, has promoted an agenda that has been proven false time and time again, in study after study,” wrote Sherry, referencing studies that have unequivocally found police officers are far more likely to use deadly force with white suspects than black ones.
“But facts don’t seem to matter anymore,” she went on. “This man has thrown his support behind divisive anti-police groups, and donated money directly to a fugitive from justice who escaped prison after killing a police officer. I question the judgement of anyone who would put someone this controversial and divisive at the head of an advertising campaign, but it isn’t my company to run.”
“I don’t know if I’ll have the heart to ever get rid of this cap, but I will tell you this, I’ll never purchase another Nike product as long as I live. You got this one wrong Nike, terribly, terribly wrong,” she concluded, before signing her letter to Nike, “Sherry Graham-Potter, surviving spouse of Deputy Tim Graham.”
This is what it truly means to sacrifice — to have your entire life upended and forever changed because you cared about something bigger than yourself. Please share Sherry Potter’s story if you believe that she — not Colin Kaepernick — knows what it means to sacrifice everything.