Time magazine has released its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2017, and former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is featured as an "icon."
His former coach, Jim Harbaugh, wrote the article that went along with the QB's selection:
I thank Colin for all he has contributed to the game of football as an outstanding player and trusted teammate. I also applaud Colin for the courage he has demonstrated in exercising his guaranteed right of free speech. His willingness to take a position at personal cost is now part of our American story.
How lucky for us all and for our country to have among our citizens someone as remarkable as Colin Kaepernick.
The quarterback stirred up discussion last year when he decided to take a knee during the national anthem in the preseason. At first he did so quietly, but then he was asked about it by NFL.com and revealed his actions were a protest.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
Immediately there was a reaction. Even Harbaugh, who applauds Kaepernick in this piece, was against his former player's actions at first.
Jim Harbaugh on Colin Kaepernick: "I acknowledge his right to do it. But I don't respect the motivation or the action."— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) August 29, 2016
I apologize for misspeaking my true sentiments. To clarify, I support Colin's motivation. It's his method of action that I take exception to— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) August 29, 2016
People from every outlet seemed to have an opinion on the matter, and the protest went international. Other NFL players joined in, then high school and college football players joined and eventually athletes in other sports took part.
Not everyone took a knee like Kaepernick; some raised a fist. Others agreed with his thinking, but not with his actions. Many opposed his views all together. But at the end of the day, almost everyone had an opinion.
Fast forward to 2017 and now Kaepernick is a free agent and many believe politics have played a role in him being without a job.
Whether you agree with his decision or not, there's no denying Kaepernick influenced the lives of many over the past year. He was a trending topic for months on end, and his name expanded beyond the football realm.
Other sports figures to make the list include: Simone Biles, Tom Brady, Neymar, Theo Epstein and LeBron James.