San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was given The Len Eshmont Award, which honors a player for his courage and inspiration. Eshmont, the award’s namesake, was a player on the franchise’s original 1946 team who died before his 40th birthday, and the award has been given annually since his death in 1957.
Joe Theismann, who was the 1983 MVP and a Super Bowl champion with Washington, was not happy that the team gave the award to the controversial quarterback. This is what Theismann said about the decision on FOX News:
“Inspired and courageous? You’re 2-14. What did he inspire? You’re [1-10] as a quarterback [this season]. What [did] you possibly inspire? … I don’t agree with what he’s done. Everybody has the right to express their opinion, but not in the workplace.”
The award was voted on by his teammates, however, so those in his workplace were not as upset as the former Washington quarterback.
Previous winners include Anquan Boldin and Frank Gore as well as Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young.
Here’s what Kaepernick said about what it meant to get the award (via Niners Wire):
“I can’t express how grateful I am to have teammates like I did this year. They stood behind me regardless of any situation that went on, had a lot of great conversations in the locker room and I think even today in a situation where we have a lot of injuries, a lot of players that are new stepping on the field, we went out, we fought together and we stayed together to the very end and gave everything we had for each other. So, to me, that’s what stood out to me was that it was from my teammates and it really means a lot.”
Kaepernick made a “Million Dollar Pledge” on Instagram after he decided to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial inequality.
He is posting on his website with updates about all of the charities he has donated to that help the cause he is fighting for.
Most recently, he has donated a $50,000 check to the Mni Wiconi Health Clinic Partnership — which is a free clinic at the Standing Rock camp for protestors against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The 49ers quarterback had also donated $25,000 to Appetite for Change in North Minneapolis and another $25,000 to Southsiders Organized for Union and Love in Chicago.
During the season, he donated a similar amount to organizations in Milwaukee, Dallas, New York City and San Jose.
Kaepernick also donated his enormous Nike shoe collection to various Bay Area homeless shelters and orphanages. TMZ estimates that his donation included thousands of dollars worth of gear.
In addition to his financial contributions, he has also spent lots of time in the community.
Kaepernick started the Know Your Rights Camp, which is a free campaign to “raise awareness on higher education, self-empowerment, and instruction to properly interact with law enforcement.”
The 49ers quarterback received death threats and yet still remained focused on each game.
His 4.8 touchdown percentage, his 186.8 yards per game and his 90.7 QB rating were all above his career averages on the field. His teammates knew that struggle — and that’s why he likely received the votes necessary to win the prestigious award for courage and inspiration.