Nine Line Apparel, a veteran-owned and -operated apparel company based in Georgia, this week called out Nike over its latest ad campaign featuring football player Colin Kaepernick saying that to believe in something means “sacrificing everything.”
Tyler Merritt, CEO and co-founder of Nine Line, told American Military News on Wednesday that the ad, which features the phrase “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” is “disgraceful.”
“This isn’t a new stance,” he said. “Ever since he took a knee, we’ve been adamant about our opinions on the matter and how we feel,” American Military News reports.
Tyler Merritt is a former Apache helicopter pilot and Special Operations Air Mission Commander in the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) who has deployed numerous times to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Arabian Peninsula and South America in support of special operations. He was awarded the Bronze Star and numerous air medals for his actions in combat.
The Night Stalkers are one of the elite unites and when they deploy, it is because a mission went sideways, The 160th Night Stalkers Creed:
Service in the 160th is a calling only a few will answer for the mission is constantly demanding and hard. And when the impossible has been accomplished the only reward is another mission that no one else will try. As a member of the Night Stalkers I am a tested volunteer seeking only to safeguard the honor and prestige of my country, by serving the elite Special Operations Soldiers of the United States. I pledge to maintain my body, mind and equipment in a constant state of readiness for I am a member of the fastest deployable Task Force in the world, ready to move at a moment’s notice anytime, anywhere, arriving time on target plus or minus 30 seconds.
I guard my unit’s mission with secrecy, for my only true ally is the night and the element of surprise. My manner is that of the Special Operations Quiet Professional, secrecy is a way of life. In battle, I eagerly meet the enemy for I volunteered to be up front where the fighting is hard. I fear no foe’s ability, nor underestimate his will to fight.
The mission and my precious cargo are my concern. I will never surrender. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy, and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.
Gallantly will I show the world and the elite forces I support that a Night Stalker is a specially selected and well trained soldier.
I serve with the memory and pride of those who have gone before me for they loved to fight, fought to win and would rather die than quit.
Night Stalkers Don’t Quit!
“The issue of kneeling during the national anthem in protest has become a polarizing topic, Shame on Nike for assuming we’re as blind and stupid as they must believe to think this individual [Kaepernick] represents all that is good within the sport. You understand the background of saying this individual ‘sacrificed everything. He [Pat Tillman] gave up his illustrious career and then gave the ultimate sacrifice.” ~ Tyler Merritt
“As a football player and soldier, Pat inspired countless Americans to unify,” Marie Tillman said. “It is my hope that his memory should always remind people that we must come together. Pat’s service, along with that of every man and woman’s service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us. We are too great of a country for that,” ~ Marie Tillman (Pat’s Wife)
"Pat's service, along with that of every man and woman's service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us." https://t.co/abUYkrr7gU
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 5, 2018
In the spring of 2002, Pat married his high school love, Marie, and upon his return from their honeymoon, announced to the Cardinals he had decided to place his NFL career on hold to enlist in the U.S. Army with his brother, Kevin. The decision shocked many and garnered national media attention despite his refusal to speak publicly about the choice.
“Pat knew his purpose in life,” Dave McGinnis, former Arizona Cardinals head-coach said. “He proudly walked away from a career in football to a greater calling.”
Pat and Kevin joined the U.S. Army that July, committing to a three-year term. They were assigned to the second battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington. They served tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2004. On the evening of April 22, 2004, Pat’s unit was ambushed as it traveled through the rugged, canyon terrain of eastern Afghanistan. His heroic efforts to provide cover for fellow soldiers as they escaped from the canyon led to his untimely and tragic death via fratricide.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.