Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who sparked the movement of NFL players protesting the national anthem, has been named “Citizen of the Year” by GQ magazine.
In its cover story, “Colin Kaepernick Will Not Be Silenced,” the mag says Kaepernick agreed to contribute to the project because “he wants to reclaim the narrative of his protest.”
He declined to be quoted directly in the piece, which consists of perspectives from people that GQ describes as Kaepernick’s “closest confidants.”
“Colin also made it clear to us that he intended to remain silent,” GQ says in the article. “As his public identity has begun to shift from football star to embattled activist, he has grown wise to the power of his silence.
“It has helped his story go around the world. It has even provoked the ire and ill temper of Donald Trump.”
Kaepernick tweeted Monday morning that he was “honored” to be recognized by GQ in its December Men of the Year issue.
He made national headlines last year by taking a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a means of protesting racial inequality and police brutality.
Niners linebacker Eric Reid, who joined Kaepernick in his protest last year and has continued kneeling during the national anthem, was one of the people who spoke to GQ about his former teammate.
“My goal this year has been to get the narrative back on track,” Reid said. “We started having communications with the NFL, and they said they’re going to help us make progress on these issues. But the next step is to get Colin back in the NFL. Because he’s the one that started this. I think we’re finally getting where me and Colin envision this going. Now it’s time for him to get back in the league.”
Other confidants who provided their comments included rapper J. Cole, filmmaker Ave DuVernay, activist Harry Belafonte and Women’s March co-organizer Linda Sarsour.
Paired with the article are images by Martin Schoeller, who photographed Kaepernick in Harlem, “intending to evoke the spirit of Muhammad Ali’s anti-Vietnam War protests in the neighborhood during the late 60s,” according to GQ.
Kaepernick, who led the Niners to consecutive NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance, has remained unsigned since opting out of his contract in March.
Last month, he filed a grievance alleging that NFL owners colluded against him because of the protests, which were aimed at raising awareness of police brutality against African-Americans and other issues.