NFL Players Association Names Colin Kaepernick First ‘Community MVP’ of the Season

By Sameer Rao Sep 18, 2017

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick‘s racial justice activism and philanthropy—which has provoked racist backlash from White football fans and National Football League (NFL) executives alike—earned commendation from his fellow players via a new most valuable player (MVP) award on Friday (September 15).

The NFL Players Association announced on Friday that the player, who remains a free agent despite ongoing supporter action, received the first weekly "community MVP" award of the 2017-2018 football season. The NFL players labor organization honored Kaepernick "for his commitment to empowering underserved communities through donations and grassroots outreach." The Association’s announcement referenced his two most recent donations, whose recipient organizations fight a mix of racial, gender and child justice issues: 

On Sept. 7, which marked the first day of the 2017 NFL season, the free agent quarterback announced his latest round of $100,000 donations, giving $25,000 each to four charities—DREAM, which provides afterschool programs and youth sports opportunities to New York’s innercity youth; Coalition for the Homeless; The Gathering for Justice’s War on Children, a new program that will launch in 2018 to continue the fight against child incarceration; and United We Dream, which addresses the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth.

Kaepernick followed this up three days later with a Back to School Backpack Giveaway at the Lower Eastside Girls Club of New York, which connects girls and young women to entrepreneurship opportunities, healthy meals and STEM workshops. The Nike backpacks that were distributed at the Sept. 9 event were filled with books and other items for the crowd of students in attendance.

The announcement also touched on his previous efforts, including the "Know Your Rights Camp" he created to empower children of color in their interactions with law enforcement—a thematic extension of his kneeling protests against police brutality throughout the 2016-2017 football season.

The union also pledged to donate $10,000 to a charitable cause of Kaepernick’s choice, which the player has yet to publicly reveal.