Colin Kaepernick may not have a job, but he’s still earning praise with his latest accolade

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during a news conference after an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. New Orleans won the game 41-23. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

In over a year, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has gone from starting quarterback of an NFL franchise to a beacon of social change. After a year dominated by a conversation of the protest movement he sparked across sports, GQ magazine has named Kaepernick one of their Men of the Year.

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Though Kaepernick is not quoted in the feature, he posed for a series of pictures from photographs Martin Schoeller. Among the photos are images of Kaepernick wearing an “I Know My Rights” t-shirt, and Kaepernick posing with a group of young people while wearing a dashiki.

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GQ introduces their subject by pointing out that he had previously appeared on the magazine’s cover when he was one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.

“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. He is still, to this day, one of the most gifted quarterbacks on earth,” the editors of GQ write.

According to GQ, Kaepernick participated in the photoshoot because he wanted to refocus the narrative surrounding his national anthem protest. Kaepernick claims that his initial act of sitting out the national anthem was to, as GQ writes, “protest systemic oppression and, more specifically, as he said repeatedly at the time, police brutality toward black people.”

The rest of the feature consists of interviews with artists and other pop culture figures who praise Kaepernick.

Among the figures who are quoted is football player Eric Reid. Reid was the first player to join Kaepernick in his protest.

“My goal this year has been to get the narrative back on track. We started having communications with the NFL, and they said they’re going to help us make progress on these issues,” Reid tells GQ. “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.”

In October 2017, Kaepernick filed a grievance with the NFL, alleging that the league and its team owners colluded to block him from getting an NFL contract.

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