Colin Kaepernick will not go away, even though at this point I am sure the NFL wishes he would. Even as he prepares to launch his lawsuit against the NFL alleging a collusion to keep him from playing in the league and weighs whether or not to meet one on one with Roger Goodell to discuss his issues with the way the league is handling things, GQ has named him its Citizen of the Year, citing his willingness to risk his professional football career to protest social injustices. GQ even goes as far as to parallel Kaepernick with the protest of Muhammad Ali:

By the end of the 1960s, Muhammad Ali’s stand against the Vietnam War—he’d marched in Harlem with the Nation of Islam after he was drafted and refused to serve—resulted in him being locked out of his sport for three years, at the peak of his talent, much as Colin is now. He continued to train throughout that period, waiting for his chance to return to boxing. He was known for jogging in the streets, and kids would chase him—the People’s Champ, boosted in his darkest days by the joy of his truest fans. That’s why we decided to photograph Colin in public, in Harlem, among the men, women, and children he is fighting for. By the end of the 1960s, Muhammad Ali’s stand against the Vietnam War—he’d marched in Harlem with the Nation of Islam after he was drafted and refused to serve—resulted in him being locked out of his sport for three years, at the peak of his talent, much as Colin is now. He continued to train throughout that period, waiting for his chance to return to boxing. He was known for jogging in the streets, and kids would chase him—the People’s Champ, boosted in his darkest days by the joy of his truest fans. That’s why we decided to photograph Colin in public, in Harlem, among the men, women, and children he is fighting for.

Kaepernick and GQ took an interesting turn in crafting this narrative, instead of using his words, he allowed other artists and activists to speak for him. The magazine augmented those words using pictures of Kaepernick with children whom he is actively positioning himself to be fighting for.

Particularly interesting is the choice to use a Black Panthers inspired ensemble as the cover photo, as the last team Kaepernick played for was located in San Francisco, just 8 miles from Oakland, where the national headquarters of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was located.

GQ Cover, Colin Kaepernick as Man of the Year

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