Americans were polarized when Colin Kaepernick, 30, did a silent protest by kneeling during the playing of the United States national anthem before National Football League (NFL) games. Recently, magazines have been validating the activism of the free-agent quarterback.
On Dec. 4, Monday, the list of 10 candidates for the Person of the Year for 2017 of TIME was revealed. Given each year to “the person or group of people who most influenced the news during the past year, for better or for worse,” the recognition was given to German chancellor Angela Merkel, 63, in 2015 and to U.S. President Donald Trump, 71, in 2016.
Trump is included in the list of TIME’s 2017 Person of the Year candidates and so is Kaepernick, the only sports star on the short list. The other candidates are “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins, 46, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, 53, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, 73, North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un, 33, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, People’s Republic of China’s President Xi Jinping, 64, the #MeToo Movement and The Dreamers, a group of undocumented immigrants brought by their parents to the U.S. when they were children.
Before being shortlisted as the TIME’s 2017 Person of the Year, Kaepernick was named Citizen of the Year by GQ. Critics slammed the magazine’s choice for the award for several reasons including the quarterback’s support for the late Fidel Castro, the former leader of communist Cuba.
On Dec. 5, Tuesday, Kaepernick is expected to be in New York to accept the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award from Sports Illustrated. Like the late boxer Muhammad Ali, the former San Francisco 49ers star risked his athletic career to stage a protest against injustice.
In 1966, Ali took a stand against the Vietnam War. In 2016, Kaepernick made history as the first NFL player to take a knee during the U.S. national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality in the country.