The NFL Players Association Gives This Week’s Community MVP Award To Colin Kaepernick
Although he is still not signed to a team, the specter of quarterback Colin Kaepernick looms large over the NFL. Kaepernick became one of the most polarizing figures in the country last year when he began kneeling during the national anthem before games, in protest of the multiple police killings of unarmed people of color. Although he had a respectable season, Kaepernick was released by the San Francisco 49ers and has not been picked up by any other team, despite having better stats than several quarterbacks who remain employed in the NFL.
Many perceive teams’ lack of willingness to sign Kaepernick to be a form of blackballing, due to his silent protests last year. As a result, millions of fans have joined together in support of Kap, in the from of protests outside of the NFL offices in New York City, and calls to boycott this season of NFL games, unless he is signed. Despite what seems like a systemic choice by big media to not cover the impact of the boycott, NFL ratings this season have declined sharply, likely due to a number of factors, including the boycott.
What has not declined, however, is Kaepernick’s popularity, both within the league and among the fans. That was demonstrated by an incredibly strong statement on behalf of the NFL Players Association this week, when the organization named Kaepernick its Community MVP for week 1 of the season. Both players and those seeking employment in the NFL, who are dues-paying members of the NFLPA, are eligible to win the Community MVP, however, this is the first time in the award’s history that it has been given to someone who is not actually on an NFL roster.
In a statement, the NFLPA said “For being named this week’s Community MVP, the NFLPA will make a $10,000 contribution to Kaepernick’s foundation or charity of choice along with an in-kind donation to him on behalf of our supporting partner Delta Private Jets.” The Players Association also said “Kaepernick, along with the other 2017 Community MVPs, will also become eligible for this year’s Byron Whizzer White Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player,” perhaps foreshadowing its intent to make an even bigger statement in support of Kaepernick at the end of the season.
Beyond the impact Kaepernick has had in putting discussion about police brutality front and center in America, he also has truly been tirelessly active in communities. He has donated $100,000 per month to various charities, as part of a $1 million pledge he made in 2016. According to ESPN, ‘in September, he gave $25,000 each to after-school program DREAM, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Gathering for Justice’s War on Children and United We Dream. He also organized a backpack giveaway for a Girls Club in New York.”
Whether the media or the NFL chooses to address Kaepernick’s ongoing impact, players and fans are continuing to stand in support of him. In a statement to Ambrosia For Heads, Masta Ace said “The NFL believes if they just ignore us, we will eventually give up our convictions in favor of their product. As an avid football fan for nearly my entire life, I am insulted by their attempt to mute our collective voices in an effort to marginalize us even further in the eyes of American society. This has become bigger than one player’s right to have a job. The NFL and its owners aren’t willing to take stand against the killings of unarmed people of color by police departments when their league wouldn’t exist without those same people of color. I’m in this for the long haul. #boycott #resist.”