This story was originally published at RollingStone.com.
It has been one month since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand during the national anthem before a preseason NFL game against the Green Bay Packers, stating, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." Four weeks and it is still the story dominating football as his protest gains followers and detractors with each passing day. He might be the most disliked player in the league, but he's also become the most talked-about athlete in American sports. It doesn't make a difference whether or not his team had a game or not; you can't deny Kaepernick and his protest has become one of the biggest stories of 2016.
And his influence is growing.
First there were people who doubted his intentions, who said he's just a spoiled rich athlete. He countered that by donating $1 million to organizations who are fighting racial injustice and police brutality. Everybody from Donald Trump to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney weighed in. Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka told him to "get the hell out" of America. Tim Tebow, the Heisman-winning quarterback whose short NFL career has turned into a stint in minor league baseball — and who was best-known for also taking a knee of his own — said of Kaepernick's protest, "It's all about standing for it the right way." Kid Rock, who has been criticized in the past for flying the Confederate flag at his concerts, offered up even less-nuanced thoughts on the quarterback.
Kaepernick, meanwhile, has remained steadfast. "I've been very blessed to be in this position and be able to make the kind of money I do," he told reporters after a recent game. "I have to help these communities. It's not right that they're not put in the position to succeed or given those opportunities to succeed.”
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