Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Professional NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick can’t find a team to call home in the National Football League, but that didn’t stop the NFL Player’s Association from celebrating his charity work this week.

The official player’s union of the NFL named Kap as the organization’s Week 1 “Community MVP” on Friday. He received the honor “for his commitment to empowering underserved communities through donations and grassroots outreach,” the NFLPA announcement notes.

On Sept. 7, Kaepernick split a $100,000 donation up between four charities: DREAM, Coalition for the Homeless, The Gathering for Justice, and United We Dream. Days later he was on hand for a Back to School Backpack Giveaway at Lower Eastside Girls Club of New York.

In case it’s not clear, this is Kaepernick putting money where his mouth is. He pledged in Sept. 2016 to donate $100,000 per month for 10 months to organizations supporting his widely publicized protests against racial inequality and police brutality in the United States. He might not have followed that exact timeline, but he’s now almost reached his donation goal of $1 million.

Those acts of protest, which took the form of Kaepernick kneeling or sitting during each pre-NFL game performance of the National Anthem, were greeted with hostility and anger in various parts of the country. The backlash — which included threats on Kaepernick’s life — led to the current season’s apparent, though unstated, blacklist.

The professional setback didn’t seem to faze him, however. Kaepernick has followed through on most of his pledge in the year since. So far, he’s donated a total of $900,000 to various charities, including 100 Suits for 100 Men, Meals on Wheels, and Home 2 Heart.

The new “Community MVP” title comes with a $10,000 donation from the NFLPA to a charity of foundation of Kaepernick’s choosing, along with an equal donation to the same from Delta Private Jets, an NFLPA partner. Kaepernick is also now eligible to win the Byron Whizzer White Award, which honors community work among NFL players on an annual basis.

Kaepernick’s protest might have cost him a job in the league — for now, at least — but that hasn’t stopped other players and teams from picking up where he left off. In one recent and high-profile example, a dozen Cleveland Browns players knelt during the anthem for many of the same reasons as the blacklisted QB. 

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