GQ recently announced its 2017 Men of the Year honorees. One honoree is a basketball superstar. Another is a late-night television host with ratings hovering over 3 million viewers per episode. Yet another is Wonder Woman. And finally, there is a disgruntled, unemployed former NFL football player who is on a political mission.
That’s right. GQ honored retired professional football player Colin Kaepernick as its 2017 “Citizen of the Year.”
To recap Kaepernick’s exemplary qualifications for “Citizen of the Year,” he started a peaceful protest to bring awareness to racial injustice in the form of kneeling during the national anthem and in front of the American flag during the NFL pregame ceremonies.
Additionally, he has openly expressed support for the former leader of communist Cuba, Fidel Castro, who is responsible for untold deaths and human rights violations. Kaepernick has also worn socks depicting police officers as pigs and donated money to a charity named after convicted police-killer Assata Shakur. Also, the “Citizen of the Year” says he says he doesn’t vote.
Kaepernick’s most noteworthy act of 2017 has been filing a lawsuit against the NFL because no owners would hire him. Regardless of your stance on Kaepernick and his protest, it is undeniable that his actions have resulted in a great deal of divisiveness.
Further, it isn’t as if GQ had some shortage of outstanding citizens to choose from this year. For example:
Ellen DeGeneres. This media icon is known for her positivity and giving back. This year, she partnered with Cheerios to start the hashtag #GoodGoesRound and lead the “One Million Acts of Good” campaign. The movement is encouraging people across the world to spread kindness and participate in acts of good.
Ariana Grande. After a terrorist attack outside her concert in Manchester, England, Grande wasted no time in springing to action. Two weeks after the bombing, she hosted a benefit concert for the victims of the attack. Some 50,000 people showed up in attendance, and millions watched the concert, which raised over $13 million for the victims of the attack.
There were also plenty of outstanding citizens in the NFL this year.
J.J. Watt. After Hurricane Harvey caused some of the worst destruction of any hurricane in recent memory in the Houston area. Watt spearheaded a fundraising effort that raised over $37 million dollars to help those impacted by Harvey.
DeShaun Watson. Watt was not the only Texan to step up to the plate and help hurricane victims. The Texans’ rookie quarterback donated the very first game check of his career to three women who worked in the Texans cafeteria that lost everything in Hurricane Harvey.
Chris Long. The Philadelphia Eagles defensive end was inspired by the events of Charlottesville to do good. He is donating his entire salary for the 2017-2018 season to create scholarships for a school in Charlottesville, Virginia, and to help children receive better educations in underserved communities in St. Louis, Boston, and Philadelphia.
Even among players who have protested the national anthen, there have been examples of outstanding citizens.
Kenny Stills. The Miami Dolphins wide receiver participated in a ride-along with Miami-Dade police officers and has met with law enforcement officials in an effort to learn from one another.
Malcolm Jenkins. The Philadelphia Eagles safety has been a champion of criminal justice reform, speaking with prison inmates and going on ride-alongs with police. He met with members of Congress on Capitol Hill and with Pennsylvania state legislators to discuss solutions to fix the broken criminal justice system. His advocacy played a role in achieving actual change, with a bipartisan criminal justice reform introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley.
GQ had an opportunity to showcase these individuals — or many, many others — who have been responsible for so much good over the past year. Instead, GQ chose to honor someone who has divided the country as its “Citizen of the Year.”
Evan Berryhill is a freelance writer.