Colin Kaepernick makes rare public comments, pledges to continue off-field work 'with or without the NFL's platform'

  • Colin Kaepernick accepted Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy award on Tuesday night.
  • Kaepernick thanked "the people" and said he will continue his off-field work, regardless of whether he returns to the NFL.


Colin Kaepernick on Tuesday accepted Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy award in Brooklyn, New York.

Making some of his first public comments since going un-signed in the NFL, Kaepernick accepted the award from Beyonce and thanked "the people."

"I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people," Kaepernick said. "Because if it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today."

Kaepernick, whose decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest social injustice sparked a wave of similar protests, has spent time off the field working with and donating to charities that promote social justice.

Kaepernick has expressed his desire to continue playing in the NFL. However, after opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, Kaepernick was not signed in free agency. In October, Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance against the NFL.

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Colin Kaepernick receives Muhammad Ali Legacy Award
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Colin Kaepernick receives Muhammad Ali Legacy Award
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Colin Kaepernick receives the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award during SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Colin Kaepernick receives the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award with Beyonce and Trevor Noah during SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Colin Kaepernick receives the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award during SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Colin Kaepernick receives the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award with Beyonce and Trevor Noah during SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: (L-R) Rich Batista, Maggie Gray, Maya Moore, J.J. Watt, Bunchie Young, Joel McHale, Joel Embiid, Jose Altuve, Carmen Yulin Cruz, Colin Kaepernick, Carlos Beltran and Chris Stone attend SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Colin Kaepernick receives the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award during SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Trevor Noah and Colin Kaepernick attend SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
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In his acceptance speech, Kaepernick said he will continue his off-field work whether or not he plays in the NFL again.

"With our without the NFL's platform, I will continue to work for the people because my platform is the people," Kaepernick said.

Watch some of Kaepernick's speech below:

See more from the awards ceremony:

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Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards
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Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: (L-R) Joel Embiid, Jose Altuve; J.J. Watt and Carlos Beltran attends SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
US soccer player Kealia Ohai arrives for the 2017 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award Show on December 5, 2017, at Barclays Center in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Jose Altuve attends SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz attends SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Jose Altuve and J.J. Watt attend SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKid of the Year Maxwell 'Bunchie' Young arrives for the 2017 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award Show on December 5, 2017, at Barclays Center in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
Professional basketball player Joel Embiid arrives for the 2017 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award Show on December 5, 2017, at Barclays Center in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Danielle Herrington attends SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Houston Astros,Sportsperson of the Year, Jose Altuve and Houston Texans, Sportsperson of the Year, J.J. Watt attend 2017 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards at Barclays Center on December 5, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
(L-R) J. J. Watt, Chris Stone and Jose Altuve arrive for the 2017 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award Show on December 5, 2017, at Barclays Center in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) Sports Illustrated swimsuit models Allie Ayers, Camille Kostek, Olvia Jordan and Haley Kalil arrive for the 2017 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award Show on December 5, 2017, at Barclays Center in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Sportsperson of the Year J.J. Watt attends SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Sailor Brinkley Cook attends SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Philadelphaia 76ers Joel Embiid attends SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Raven Lyn attends SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show on December 5, 2017 at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: Philadelphia Sixers Joel Embiid, Houston Astros, Jose Altuve, Houston Texans, J.J. Watt and former Majorl League Baseball player, Carlos Beltran attend 2017 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards at Barclays Center on December 5, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
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