Colin Kaepernick is one of five finalists for the NFL Players Association’s top honor, the Byron “Whizzer” White award for community service.
Despite not playing during the 2017 season, Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback, stuck to a 2016 pledge to donate $1 million to various community groups from San Jose to New York City, where he now lives.
The other four finalists are Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, whose Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation benefits seriously ill and physically challenged children; Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long, who donated his 2017 salary to fund educational initiatives and to fund a scholarship at the high school he attended in Charlottesville, Va.; Denver Broncos pass rusher Von Miller, who provides glasses to low-income youth; and Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who spearheaded an effort that raised more than $37 million for relief following Hurricane Harvey in August.
The Byron “Whizzer” White Award dates to 1967. Recent winners, including retired receiver Anquan Boldin and Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, later won the NFL’s most prestigious humanitarian honor, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
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San Francisco’s general manager, John Lynch, won the Whizzer award in 2007 when he was a safety with the Broncos.
Kaepernick vowed to donate $1 million last season after his national anthem protest – he said he wanted to call attention to systemic racial issues in the United States – created a whirlwind of controversy. He has been making $100,000 donations monthly to four community organizations at $25,000 apiece and last week began announcing the final installments to those donations.
Though Kaepernick never was even given a workout for an NFL team last season, he still is represented by the players union and thus eligible for year-end award, which never has gone to a free agent like him.