Colin Kaepernick, who has arguably become more known for his political antics than his on-field performance, has been selected by Sports Illustrated as its Muhammad Ali Legacy Award winner.
The award is typically given to those who initiate change in the world of sports. Kaepernick, at the age of 30, is the youngest winner of the award.
Sports Illustrated Executive Editor Steve Cannella told USA Today:
"The Muhammad Ali Legacy Award is given to those who make the world a better place. The fact Colin hasn't played this year or been on the field doesn't disqualify him. That fact that he hasn't played in a game actually shows what he has sacrificed for standing up for what he believes. There will never be another Muhammad Ali, but you can see the echoes of (Ali) in what Colin has done over the last 12 to 15 months. [...]
We expect reaction with everything we do, that's just the modern political landscape we are in. I don't know if there will be a backlash, but we do expect a reaction. Do I expect some to disagree with the decision? Sure."
Ali's wife, Lonnie, played a role in the decision of picking Kaepernick and said:
“I am proud to be able to present this year's SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award to Colin Kaepernick for his passionate defense of social justice and civil rights for all people. 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. He has used his celebrity and philanthropy to benefit some of our most vulnerable community members.”
The decision to give the award to Kaepernick is very controversial for actions such as wearing socks depicting police officers as pigs, donning a Fidel Castro shirt, and kneeling during the national anthem before his NFL games.
— Trevor Spaide (@t_spaide) November 26, 2017
Kaepernick Talks about “oppression” and wears the shirt of a dictator who murdered his own people - because they have “like minds.” pic.twitter.com/tCR9xq3ckt
— Fire Goddess (@OutWithMarxists) November 15, 2017
Kaepernick was also selected as GQ's “Citizen of the Year” recently, which sparked outrage from many:
— GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) November 13, 2017
Despite Kaepernick's popularity, he remains a free agent as the NFL season is rapidly nearing the playoffs.