GQ Magazine on Monday named National Football League (NFL) free agent Colin Kaepernick its “2017 Citizen of the Year.”
“Much has changed in the four years since Colin Kaepernick was last on the cover of GQ,” the publication said in an article announcing the honor.
“Back then he was a rippling superhero of a quarterback on the rise,” the article added. “But a simple act – kneeling during the national anthem – changed everything.”
“It cost him his job. It also transformed Colin Kaepernick into a lightning rod and a powerful symbol of activism and resistance.”
GQ also published a December 2017 cover story about Kaepernick questioning why the professional football player is not on a NFL team.
“Approximately 90 men are currently employed as quarterbacks in the NFL, as either starters or reserves, and Colin Kaepernick is better – indisputably, undeniably, flat-out better – than at least 70 of them,” the article said. “He is still, to this day, one of the most gifted quarterbacks on earth.”
Kaepernick remains a NFL free agent after he began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest America’s police brutality and racial injustice.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has since been imitated by scores of NFL employees and professional athletes across several other sports.
President Trump renewed debate over Kaepernick’s actions in September when he urged NFL owners to fire players who performed the gesture.
Scores of NFL employees have since taken a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” prompting fierce national debate over the demonstration.
Supporters say kneeling during the national anthem is a valid expression of free speech, while critics counter it is unpatriotic and disrespects America’s military forces.
Kaepernick last month filed a grievance against NFL owners alleging that they colluded to keep him out of the league due to his prominent activism for social justice.
We asked veterans how they really feel about the NFL anthem protests.