Former NFL quarterback and community activist Colin Kaepernick has been recognized by the NFL's Players Association, being granted its Week 1 community MVP award.
Kaepernick, 29, was bestowed the weekly award by the NFLPA for his efforts to raise money for local charities, according to ESPN. Kaepernick has donated $100,000 every month to various charities since making a $1 million donation pledge in 2016, gifting money to the Coalition for the Homeless and the after-school program DREAM, among others.
Kaepernick has donated $900,000 of his original $1 million promise, according to CBS Sports, including $50,000 to support Meals on Wheels. He has been an active participant in community efforts for the less fortunate and has made several appearances at group events nationwide.
Kaepernick remains without a job in the NFL. He started 58 games at quarterback over six years with the San Francisco 49ers, leading the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2012. During the 2016 preseason and season, Kaepernick created national controversy for kneeling rather than standing during the national anthem.
Some believe Kaepernick remains out of the league as a result of his poor play during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, during which the 49ers went a combined 3-16 in games he started, reports Pro Football Reference. Others say his social views are what are keeping him from earning an NFL paycheck.
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie told Philly.com that he didn't necessarily mind protests but thought Kaepernick's was too disrespectful for himself and other owners. Lurie pointed out that other quarterbacks seeking jobs keep a low profile and are not a distraction.
"I don’t think anybody who is protesting the national anthem ... is very respectful,” Lurie said. “If that’s all their platform is, is to protest the national anthem, then what’s the proactive nature of it?”
NFL players have come down on both sides of the issue. Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy thought that Kaepernick remains out of a job as a result of both factors.
"I think his situation is not good enough to have him on the team and all the attention that comes with it," McCoy said, according to CBS Sports.
Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, said that while he doesn't agree with kneeling for the national anthem he would support teammates who do, and openly wonders if Kaepernick's protest is truly at the heart of his free agency.
"I think he should be on a roster right now," Rodgers said, according to Business Insider. "I think because of his protests, he's not."