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(CBS Local)- Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick’s “Dream Crazy” ad has garnered plenty of reaction from the general public. But, according to a report from the New York Times, it almost didn’t happen.

The Times report says that in 2017, after Kaepernick was unable to find a job with an NFL team as a free agent, a debate ensued within the sports apparel giant about whether or not to keep the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback on its roster of athletes. The report cites a pair of former Nike employees who spoke on condition of anonymity due to non-disclosure agreements they signed with the company.

According to the report, after no team signed Kaepernick, the company’s sports marketing group was ready to cut him loose. Some saw no value in having an athlete on their roster who wasn’t part of an NFL team and who had become a political lightning-rod due to his protests of racial injustice and inequality. However, before he was released by the company, the company’s head of communications, Nigel Powell, reportedly stepped in.

“Powell argued that Nike would face backlash from the media and consumers if it was seen as siding with the N.F.L. rather than Kaepernick. And Nike, along with most apparel companies, is desperate to attract urban youth who increasingly look up to Kaepernick; the largely white, older N.F.L. fans angry at the league over the protests are not a priority for those companies, analysts say.”

Kejuan Wilkins, a spokesman for Nike, told the Times that the company did have discussions about Kaepernick, and that any decisions made were made as a group.