One of Jim Harbaugh’s former players was included in TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people list on Thursday. And Harbaugh was the one who got to write about him.
Colin Kaepernick made the TIME 100 list months after his protests during the national anthem against racial injustice made headlines for months. The move caused some reflection but mostly outrage, and Kaepernick has still not been signed this offseason, as he remains a free agent.
But Harbaugh has been one of the most vocal supporters of his former player. Though at first the Michigan coach didn’t agree with Kaepernick’s choice to take a knee during the national anthem, he thought more about what Kaepernick was protesting.
Harbaugh — who coached the quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers for four seasons — called Kaepernick a “special person and a hero” in an interview with Sports Illustrated last month. He continued his praise in his blurb for TIME.
Colin Kaepernick was alone in his early protests last year when he boldly and courageously confronted perceived inequalities in our social-justice system by refusing to stand for the national anthem. At times in our nation’s history, we have been all too quick to judge and oppose our fellow Americans for exercising their First Amendment right to address things they believe unjust.
Rather than besmirch their character, we must celebrate their act. For we cannot pioneer and invent if we are fearful of deviating from the norm, damaging our public perception or—most important—harming our own personal interests.
I thank Colin for all he has contributed to the game of football as an outstanding player and trusted teammate. I also applaud Colin for the courage he has demonstrated in exercising his guaranteed right of free speech. His willingness to take a position at personal cost is now part of our American story.
How lucky for us all and for our country to have among our citizens someone as remarkable as Colin Kaepernick.