WASHINGTON, Nov 14 ― Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who began kneeling during the US national anthem last year to protest police brutality against African-Americans, was named “Citizen of the Year” yesterday by GQ magazine.
In making the selection, GQ compared Kaepernick to American sports icons such as boxer Muhammad Ali, who opposed the Vietnam War, and Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball.
“He's been vilified by millions and locked out of the NFL ― all because he took a knee to protest police brutality,” the magazine said.
“But Colin Kaepernick's determined stand puts him in rare company in sports history: Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson ― athletes who risked everything to make a difference.”
Kaepernick has been publicly silent as his protest gesture was adopted by other NFL players and swirled into a major controversy involving President Donald Trump, who has said players who kneel during The Star-Spangled Banner should be fired.
Kaepernick declined to be interviewed for the GQ article but put out a tweet saying he was “honoured to be recognized by @GQMagazine as Citizen of the Year.”
The 30-year-old Kaepernick also posed for a video and pictures with children in New York's Harlem.
Kaepernick is a free agent this year but has not been signed by any National Football League team, prompting him to file a collusion grievance against the league.
Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March. He led the 49ers to the 2013 Super Bowl, where they lost to Baltimore 34-31.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has denied the league has deliberately kept Kaepernick off of rosters, but as quarterbacks have become injured in recent weeks he has not been given a tryout.
Kaepernick has completed nearly 60 per cent of his career NFL passes for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns with 30 interceptions over 69 NFL games. ― AFP