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The Hat by Sherry Graham-Potter, surviving spouse of Deputy Tim Graham

Dear Nike, 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 I 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. 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. 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? 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. But facts don’t seem to matter anymore. 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 judgment 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.

— Sherry Graham-Potter, surviving spouse of Deputy Tim Graham 

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  • Billy Wardell September 17, 2018, 10:15 AM

    Thanks for sharing

  • Kimmon Johnson September 17, 2018, 10:24 AM

    I am without words. What an amazing woman.

  • H September 17, 2018, 12:22 PM

    Kaepernick isn’t fit to shine that woman’s shoes, and as for Nike, they should sign an exclusive agreement with Dick’s, those two deserve each other.

  • azlibertarian September 17, 2018, 12:31 PM

    My good friend, Bob, is a now-retired Federal Marshal. Bob spent his work days chasing bad guys all over the place. He was on their version of a SWAT team and was called away for weeks on some secret assignment which was later declassified to reveal that he was part of the team that brought the Blind Sheik from his cell to the courthouse every day. There was a lot of attention on that trial, and the feds didn’t want an escape or assassination attempt to succeed, so Bob and his guys got the job to make sure it didn’t happen.

    Anyway, Bob’s daughter passed away in her early 20’s, and they had a bagpiper at her funeral. When that bagpiper started up, it absolutely ripped a whole in my heart. I can still feel it today, and this was 15 years ago. Bagpipers at cop funerals are the clearest expression of grief that I know.

    God bless this woman and her children. Kaepernick has gotten far more than he deserves in this life, and Nike has lost me too.

  • Harry September 17, 2018, 12:45 PM

    Of course, Nike doesn’t care. As long as their fan base continues to purchase (or loot) their product.

  • Casey Klahn September 17, 2018, 2:08 PM

    Am I right in saying that Colin KapOrnament has appropriated the flag as a symbol for his own side? Furthermore, he gives you a saltier wound by using the word “sacrifice” in his meme.

    Nike is up. That’s a fact. Use that as heat when you need it, partner. Because it makes me mad as hell.

    My flag is the one worn on police and fire uniforms at the towers on the morning of 9-11. You know it: The one carried forward into battle at the point of decision at Fredericksburg and Lenoire (Lt John G. B. Adama and Joseph E. Brandle, both received the Medal of Honor for these actions). Henry D. O’Brien, at Gettysburg, held those rich colors that he’d retrieved from the dirt and rallied troops until wounded enough to retire (MOH). I could write the same story over and over because that happened when real men felt the need to honor their nation. Somehow in all of that the nation’s slave population was also freed. Only to have the honored battle pennant shat upon by Mr KapOrnament. Certainly is ironic. I know he does not represent all young men, nor all young black men. He does, however, seem to represent the NFL players because that organization has failed to stop the knee movement. He also represents civil rights, so-called, activists.

    OK, so what is a hat? It is something to wear as part of your uniform, or to be doffed, otherwise, in respect for ladies, God and the flag. I know I’m living in the past. But, it was a better time, wasn’t it? Sherry, in this post, has perfectly represented my feelings about all of this. I had to add my own color to it, though.

  • Deana September 17, 2018, 4:46 PM

    Wow. This should have wide distribution but I know half the country would dismiss this woman outright. I am so very glad I read this. I will never purchase Nike again.

  • ghostsniper September 17, 2018, 6:03 PM

    Unfortunate.
    They never made a cent off’n my ass and never will.
    I seen through their transparency from the beginning, so I just did it, elsewhere.
    If the plastic kids are doing it, I’m not.

  • Terry September 17, 2018, 6:47 PM

    Nike has been doing similar sorts of crap for decades. Only not on the scale of a crapernik. An absolutely horrid company indeed.

  • Snakepit Kansas September 17, 2018, 7:00 PM

    I have some nice shirts that were provided by my employer that have the company name on the chest along with the Nike logo on the sleeve. I have not been big into boycotts, but if this is how the left wants to play, then that is how we will play. Furthermore, I would be horrified if I wore a Nike product and someone thought I was in SOLIDARITY with that dip-shit Kapernick. Shirts are going into the trash. I’ll burn in hell before I buy or wear anything Nike.

  • Jaynie September 18, 2018, 4:56 AM

    Snakepit Kansas, most likely it’ll be the venal execs at nike who will do that visiting to fire and brimstone. Stoking hate among men? That’ll probably earn a fellow (or gal) Dante’s inferno. So, for stoking the maladaptive feelings of a lot of urban blacks to more hatred and, bonus, for punching proud Americans in the heart…. These shameful step nike execs took in their pursuit of filthy lucre. Despicable, decrepit souled people.

  • Ryan H September 18, 2018, 12:35 PM

    -90% of black murders committed by other black people.
    -It would take 40 years of police killing black people to equal the number killed by other black people in a single year.
    -Black people are 27% more likely to attack others than vice versa.
    -You are less likely to be killed by police than you are to be struck by lightning.

    And yet… these anti-police narratives are still being pushed because of the actions of a corrupt few. Because people need someone to hate and place the blame on – even if they are the ones risking their lives and sacrificing themselves every day.

    And what does this accomplish? Absolutely nothing. Nothing positive, anyway. As we point our fingers at police, we are distracted away from acknowledging the REAL problems that are causing mass deaths in the black community. We are blinded by fear and distrust, which leads to more death. And worst of all – we play right into the trap of those who benefit the most from black anger and black oppression: the left. The people who claim to care about minorities while doing nothing to rectify their problems.