Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, is pictured on the cover with the caption "Citizen of the Year." Late-night host Stephen Colbert, actress Gal Gadot and Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant are also recognized in the issue.
In Kaepernick's cover story, "Colin Kaepernick Will Not Be Silenced," GQ editors write that the free-agent quarterback wanted to contribute to the article and helped connect the magazine with 10 of his friends and confidants. He also posed for a series of photos in Harlem. But he declined to provide quotes for the story itself, citing a desire to remain silent.
"As his public identity has begun to shift from football star to embattled activist, he has grown wise to the power of his silence," the article explains.
Kaepernick garnered national attention last year by taking a knee during the national anthem as a means of protesting racial inequality and police brutality. He became a free agent in March and has remained unsigned this season, which prompted him to recently file a collusion grievance against NFL owners.
As other players have continued the national anthem demonstrations that Kaepernick started, the quarterback himself has largely remained quiet. He declined to be quoted for GQ's story, which instead includes interviews with singer Harry Belafonte, rapper J. Cole, director Ava DuVernay and former teammate Eric Reid, among others.
"Had (Kaepernick not taken a knee), this guy would be making millions of dollars right now. Period, point blank," rapper J. Cole said in the article. "And more important than the money, he was living his dream. He sacrificed his dream."