He took a knee; now he's being awarded the Sports Illustrated "Muhammad Ali Legacy Award" on top of GQ labeling him the "Citizen of the Year."
In a lengthy, glowing piece, Sports Illustrated paints Colin Kaepernick as a social justice martyr who bravely protested police brutality and suffered career persecution as a result. "He had a lot of football left to play," says SI, describing the state of Kaepernick's career before he decided to bravely take a stand — excuse me — knee to protest an America he condemns as "oppress[ing] black people and people of color."
Nowhere in the piece does Sports Illustrated note that Kaepernick did not become persona non grata simply because of his speech. Kaepernick did not just merely raise awareness about police brutality, he opted to protest the American flag by kneeling for the national anthem while thousands of Americans were contributing to his multi-million dollar paycheck.
"I am proud to be able to present this to Colin for his passionate defense of social justice and civil rights for all people," says Lonnie Ali, Muhammad’s widow. "Like Muhammad, Colin is a man who stands on his convictions with confidence and courage, undaunted by the personal sacrifices he has had to make to have his message heard. And he has used his celebrity and philanthropy to the benefit of some of our most vulnerable community members."
Sports Illustrated goes even further to say that "no winner has been more fitting than Kaepernick."
"When Kaepernick first protested during the national anthem, he could not have envisioned the size and duration of the ensuing firestorm," SI writes. "But he knew there would be fallout."
Later on, SI brushes off Kaepernick publicly wearing socks that depicted cops as pigs and a Fidel Castro T-shirt. Here's how they spin it: "He has said the socks were only meant to represent 'rogue cops' and that while he supports Castro’s investment in education, 'I never said I support the oppressive things he [Castro] did.'"
In the end, SI believes that Kaepernick has set the stage for change, similar to Ali by refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. SI even believes that "someday, America may well be a better place because of Colin Kaepernick."