Los Angeles (AFP) – Colin Kaepernick’s controversial national anthem protest has landed the San Francisco 49ers quarterback on the cover of Time magazine even as an opinion poll found him to be the “most disliked” player in the NFL.
Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games in protest of racial and social inequality and police brutality has unquestionably fueled debate in the US sports world and beyond.
He has been joined in kneeling for the anthem by a scattering of other NFL players as well as players in other leagues.
On Wednesday, the entire Indiana Fever team kneeled during the anthem before their knock-out WNBA playoff game against Phoenix, knowing it might be their last chance to do something that guard-forward Marissa Coleman called “bigger than basketball”.
The Fever’s action came as violent protests rocked Charlotte, North Carolina, triggered by the latest in a string of police-involved killings of black men that have fueled outrage across the United States.
The Time cover released on Wednesday shows Kaepernick kneeling in uniform in a photograph captioned “The Perilous Fight”.
The magazine notes that Kaepernick’s protest has fueled “debate about privilege, pride and patriotism”.
It comes a day after Kaepernick revealed he had received death threats from critics who believe the 28-year-old’s protest is disrespectful.
A poll conducted last week and reported on Wednesday by ESPN found Kaepernick has become the most disliked player in the NFL.
The poll of 1,100 people sought opinion on more than 350 players and found that Kaepernick was “disliked a lot” by 29 percent of those polled, more than any other player.
However, perception of Kaepernick varied greatly along racial lines. Among African Americans polled, 42 percent said that they like Kaepernick “a lot” while 37 percent of white respondents said they dislike him “a lot”.