The NFL Players Association named free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick winner of its Community MVP award for Week 1 of the 2017 season.
“For being named this week’s Community MVP, the NFLPA will make a $10,000 contribution to Kaepernick’s foundation or charity of choice along with an in-kind donation to him on behalf of our supporting partner Delta Private Jets,” the association announced Friday.
“Kaepernick, along with the other 2017 Community MVPs, will also become eligible for this year’s Byron Whizzer White Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.”
The award has been given away on a weekly basis for a few years now and anybody who is a dues-paying member of the NFLPA and either on a current roster or actively seeking employment in the NFL is eligible to receive the honor. But Kaepernick winning the award as a free agent is a first.
A week ago, the winner was Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt for his hugely successful efforts to fundraise and help the Houston community in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
While the NFL has done its best to ignore Kaepernick, the NFLPA giving the quarterback the award could be construed as a thinly veiled shot at teams that have made excuses not to sign the former 49ers player. With a labor dispute on the horizon, the NFL and NFLPA haven’t been on the best of terms.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith took a shot at the NFL with his congratulations for Kaepernick.
The Byron Whizzer White Award is the NFLPA’s version of the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Last year’s winner of the Byron Whizzer White Award was Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles, a staunch supporter of Kaepernick’s fight against racial injustice.
A year ago, Kaepernick pledged to donate $1 million of his salary to various charities with $100,000 donations per month. Following his latest round of contributions, his total given is now at $900,000 and will feature a $10,000 bonus from the NFLPA.