Mike Rowe’s tribute to 9/11 hero comes with advice: ‘Nike’s free to celebrate whomever they wish, but …’

Contrary to what Nike may be thinking, Mike Rowe definitely doesn’t see Colin Kaepernick as an example of someone who “epitomized bravery and sacrifice.”

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” reads Nike’s latest ad campaign featuring the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Rowe weighed in on the controversy the ad has caused after being asked about the “Kaepernick PR disaster at Nike” by someone on his Facebook page.

Photo Credit: Screengrab/Youtube/Real Time with Bill Maher

“Nike’s free to celebrate whomever they wish, and Kaepernick is entitled to his opinion–kneeling, standing, or lying down,” the “Dirty Jobs” host wrote on Facebook Monday.

“But if I was going to put someone’s face on a billboard – someone who epitomized bravery and sacrifice – I might have gone another way, especially this time of year. I might have gone with this guy – Tom Burnett,” he wrote, referring to one of the brave passengers on Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Tom’s last act on earth was one of the most courageous things imaginable. And his last words to his wife, Deena, are among the most inspiring I’ve ever heard,” the television host continued.

“Those exact words are at the top of this page, and the bottom. They were spoken 17 years ago, under conditions I hope to never experience. I’ll never forget Tom’s last words. I hope you won’t either,” Rowe wrote.

He then shared the content of that phone conversation as Burnett spoke with his wife, Deena, while the Newark to San Francisco-bound plane he was on was hijacked by terrorists. Burnett and some of his fellow passengers eventually worked to take down the hijackers who were heading the plane into Washington, D.C. Eventually, they crashed the plane in a field in Pennsylvania, saving an untold number of lives that would have been lost on the ground by sacrificing their own.

Seventeen years later, as Rowe shared that conversation, the meaning of true bravery can clearly be seen:

Tom: We’re waiting until we’re over a rural area. We’re going to take back the airplane.
Deena: No! Sit down, be still, be quiet, and don’t draw attention to yourself! (The exact words taught to me by Delta Airlines Flight Attendant Training).
Tom: Deena! If they’re going to crash this plane into the ground, we’re going to have do something!
Deena: What about the authorities?
Tom: We can’t wait for the authorities. I don’t know what they could do anyway.
It’s up to us. I think we can do it.
Deena: What do you want me to do?
Tom: Pray, Deena, just pray.

(after a long pause)

Deena: I love you.
Tom: Don’t worry, we’re going to do something…


Rowe’s Facebook post garnered over 166,000 reactions and has been shared over 90,000 times so far.

“You did right by this Mike Rowe,” one Facebook user commented. “Nike can’t see the forest for the trees.
They’re just shoes. Tom Burnett, you are a real hero.”

“Well said, Mike. It makes me sick that the media ignores hero’s like this man, and people glorify idiots and opportunists like Kapernick (sic). Thank you for sharing this story,” another wrote.

“Amazing who people consider heroes nowadays. I would love to see Nike, or any other corporation for that matter, honor Tom Burnett, or any of the countless men and women who sacrifice everything for their country,” one comment read.

“How did we get from heroes such as Tom, to ‘heroes’ such as Kaepernick? The word ‘hero’ has lost all meaning today,” another Facebook user commented.


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