Colin Kaepernick has become a very polarizing figure in our society. The editors of GQ magazine are very clear about where they stand on the quarterback who hasn't been able to find a job in the NFL a year after he started the movement of kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustices.
They feel he is "one of the most gifted quarterbacks on earth" and "indisputably, undeniably, flat-out better" than more than 75% of the quarterbacks employed by the league right now. They feel he is being "blackballed" by the NFL for his protests.
And they feel he is the "Citizen of the Year."
That is the title they gave him on one of four covers for the magazine's 22nd Men of the Year issue. The other 2017 honorees are Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant ("Champion of the Year"), comedian Stephen Colbert ("Bad Hombre of the Year") and actress Gal Gadot ("Wonder Woman of the Year").
In their article about Kaepernick, the GQ editors stated that Kaepernick agreed to appear in the magazine — he posed for numerous photos by Martin Schoeller — in an effort to "reclaim the narrative of his protest," they wrote.
But he did not want to be interviewed or quoted for the piece.
"As his public identity has begun to shift from football star to embattled activist, he has grown wise to the power of his silence," the editors wrote of Kaepernick. "It has helped his story go around the world. It has even provoked the ire and ill temper of Donald Trump. Why talk now, when your detractors will only twist your words and use them against you? Why speak now, when silence has done so much?
"At the same time, Colin is all too aware that silence creates a vacuum, and that if it doesn't get filled somehow, someone else will fill it for him. In our many conversations with Colin about this project, we discussed the history of athletes and civil rights, and the indelible moments it called to mind, and we decided that we'd use photography — the power of imagery and iconography — to do the talking."
Here are some of those photos:
Kaepernick also helped GQ assemble a panel of 10 of his closest confidants to comment for the article.
As the editors stated, Kaepernick doesn't say much in public these days. But on Monday morning, he did recognize the honor the magazine bestowed upon him.