Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who drew support and scorn for kneeling during the national anthem last season, has been named among the 100 Most Influential people of 2017 by TIME Magazine.
Kaepernick first raised eyebrows when he sat on the bench during the anthem in the preseason. He later revealed it was a protest against what he saw as oppression against blacks and other minorities in the United States.
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane was one of the early adopters, saying he was supporting Kaepernick.
Kaepernick switched to taking a knee after a discussion with former Green Beret Nate Boyer, who had a brief career with the Seahawks as a long snapper. The reason was to continue the protest but still show respect for those in the military.
More players joined his silent protest. Some knelt.
Some held their fists in the air.
Here are Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty raising their fists for the National Anthem. Patriots, both. pic.twitter.com/rDilAEaCUj— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) September 12, 2016
The Seahawks, as a team, locked arms along the sideline during the anthem.
The Seahawks locked arms during the national anthem today, in what some players called a demonstration of unity. pic.twitter.com/HlC4Bv4MTI— ESPN (@espn) September 11, 2016
Before a Monday Night Football game, the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints gathered to hold hands in a unity circle surrounding the center of the field after the anthem.
The protests spread beyond the NFL. U.S. Women's National Team soccer star Megan Rapinoe joined.
High school football teams did as well.
The entire Garfield High School football team kneels during national anthem!...
(Photo: Dean Rutz) pic.twitter.com/cb0hcULPPw— Soheil Asefi (@SoheilAsefi) September 20, 2016
All of these demonstrations started with Kaepernick's influence, hence his addition to the TIME list.
His entry was written by his former head coach, Jim Harbaugh.
"At times in our nation's history, we have been all too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust," Harbaugh wrote. "Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act. For we cannot pioneer and invent if we are fearful of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or—most important—harming our own personal interests."
Kapernick is currently a free agent. Some have speculated the reason he hasn't been signed yet is because of his protests. One report even suggested team owners don't want to get a nasty tweet from President Donald Trump if they add Kapernick to their roster.
Kaepernick said last month he will stand for the anthem this season.