'Citizen of the Year' or 'Coward of the Year'?

'GQ' honors Colin Kaepernick, but critics think the choice is off base
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2017 12:05 PM CST
'Citizen of the Year' or 'Coward of the Year'?
Colin Kaepernick in December 2016, when he still played with the 49ers.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

GQ has made its selection for "Citizen of the Year," and it's one destined to create instant controversy: Colin Kaepernick. In their explanation, the editors liken the sidelined quarterback to Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson, "athletes who risked everything to make a difference." They also argue that the NFL is clearly blackballing the QB over his take-a-knee protest on police brutality, given that 90 quarterbacks are currently in the league, and Kaepernick "is better—indisputably, undeniably, flat-out better—than at least 70 of them." More details on the pick and reaction:

  • No interview: One unusual aspect of the magazine's coverage is that it features no interview with Kaepernick himself, notes CNN. Instead, Kaepernick sticks to his general policy of public silence, but he helped the magazine select 10 people to speak on his behalf. He also participates in a photo spread. "I'm honored to be recognized," Kaepernick tweeted.

  • Snippets: One of those who speaks for Kaepernick in the GQ profile is filmmaker Ava DuVernay. "I see what he's done as art," she says, recalling having dinner with Kaepernick and his partner, Nessa, the night Trump publicly called out the QB at a rally. "He's sitting there and I'm sitting there and I'm like, 'Look at this brother—he's doing better than any of us would've done.' A lot better. With a lot more elegance." Nessa (a syndicated radio host), Harry Belafonte, and rapper J. Cole are among the others to weigh in here.
  • Opposing view: Kaepernick should have been named "Coward of the Year," writes Todd Starnes at Fox News: "Apparently, GQ seems to think that disrespecting our military and spitting on our flag is a symbol of heroism and manliness." (Part of Kaepernick's rationale for collaborating with the GQ editors was to "reclaim the narrative" of his protest, defined by the magazine as calling attention to "systemic oppression and, more specifically, as he said repeatedly at the time, police brutality toward black people.") Twitchy rounds up tweets from others critical of the choice.
  • Brady not going there: Tom Brady happened to appear Monday morning on radio station WEEI, where he was asked straight up whether NFL owners were colluding to keep Kaepernick out of the league. He didn't take the bait. "You know, I don't ... I have no idea if he's being blackballed," he said, per TMZ. "I competed against him. I thought he was a damn good quarterback." (Kaepernick is suing the league over the issue.)
  • Other honorees: The magazine also honored Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot as "Wonder Woman of the Year," the NBA's Kevin Durant as "Champion of the Year," and Stephen Colbert as "Bad Hombre of the Year." Details here.

  • No vote? Kaepernick didn't vote in the 2016 election, a decision critics have pounced upon. Most recently, Bob Costas cited it as a reason he doesn't reach the "level of transcendence" of previous athlete activists, reports the Washington Post.
  • One icon's view: Former Olympian John Carlos, who made the "black power" salute at the 1968 Games, tells TMZ that Kaepernick's name does indeed belong in the same company as Ali, Robinson, himself, and others. He "is this generation's iconic civil rights leader."
  • Nope: David Hookstead takes issue with Kaepernick's sports bona fides in a post at the Smoke Room. It's "laughable" for the editors to say he's better than 70 of the 90 current QBs. He was once, but today he's just good enough to be a backup, and what owner would want the hassle of the accompanying "media circus" for a backup? "Congratulations, GQ. You named an unemployed athlete as citizen of the year and then went on to make some ridiculous arguments in support of him."
  • Notable cover: At the Root, Anne Branigin thinks the cover photo is a telling one. "Kaepernick’s all-black-everything cover clearly references Black Panther Party imagery, with his fully picked-out Afro, black leather jacket, and black turtleneck."
(More Colin Kaepernick stories.)

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