BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — GQ magazine has named Colin Kaepernick “Citizen of the Year.”

“Much has changed in the four years since Colin Kaepernick was last on the cover of GQ,” the magazine writes. “Back then he was a rippling superhero of a quarterback on the rise. But a simple act—kneeling during the national anthem—changed everything. It cost him his job. It also transformed Colin Kaepernick into a lightning rod and a powerful symbol of activism and resistance.”

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Kaepernick led the 49ers to the playoffs in 2013, and ultimately Super Bowl XLVII, where they lost to the Ravens.

Since then, it’s been nothing but controversy for the quarterback. Last season, he often took a knee during the national anthem ahead of games in protest of social issues such as discrimination against minorities and police brutality.

Kaepernick has been a free agent since opting out of his contract with the 49ers last winter, after it was made clear by new general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan that the quarterback would have been released. He was scheduled to make $14.9 million for 2017.

When Joe Flacco was injured before the start of the regular season this year, the Ravens expressed interest in Kaepernick, but never signed him.

Many wondered how close the Ravens were to signing Kaepernick, and after it didn’t happen, Ray Lewis said on Showtime’s “Inside The NFL” that they were about to close the deal, but one tweet changed the game.

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Lewis says he and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti had several conversations about signing the quarterback.

“We were talking about giving this kid an opportunity to get back in the National Football League,” says Lewis. “I have been fighting for this kid behind the table like nobody has.”

Then, Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Nessa Diab, tweeted out a photo that appeared to compare Bisciotti and Lewis to a slave owner and slave.

“Then, his girl goes out and puts out this racist gesture and doesn’t know we are in the back office about to try to get this guy signed,” Lewis said.

In October, Kaepernick filed a grievance against the league and its owners alleging he remains unsigned as a result of owners colluding against him due to his acts of protest.

One of Kaepernick’s attorneys, Mark Geragos, issued a statement over Twitter that said, “If the NFL (as well as all professional sports leagues) is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful political protest — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the executive branch of our government. Such a precedent threatens all patriotic Americans and harkens back to our darkest days as a nation.”

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