Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick will win a prestigious sports award next week in spite of not playing a single down a football this season.
Kaepernick will receive the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, which is presented to athletes who have made a lasting impact on their sport.
Kaepernick will be honored at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards show on Tuesday in New York. Kaepernick will be recognized for his kneeling protest of the national anthem and his left-wing political advocacy.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback created a firestorm in the 2016 NFL season when he refused to stand for the national anthem. The decision sparked a mass backlash against Kaepernick and was instrumental in his being unemployable by any NFL team in 2017.
President Trump attacked anthem kneelers in a campaign speech this fall that led to dozens of NFL players joining in the protest.
The NFL has since suffered greatly in ratings attendance and public opinion polls.
Sports Illustrated will honor Kaepernick in spite of this and many other controversial decisions by the quarterback.
In an interview with USA Today, Sports Illustrated executive editor Steve Cannella says the fact that Kaepernick hasn’t played football this season makes him more worthy of the award:
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.
Cannella Also said he expected backlash for the decision to honor the controversial athlete:
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.
If the backlash is anything like the NFL has faced, it will not be good for Sports Illustrated.