The magazine named the former 49ers quarterback its "Citizen of the Year" for starting the protest that became a movement in the NFL.
Kaepernick first knelt during the National Anthem at a preseason game a year ago to protest mistreatment of black Americans, particularly by police.
He was featured on the cover of GQ back in 2013 during the height of his career, but he remains without a team this season - a situation many claim to be the result of his protest.
Colin Kaepernick may be called many things, but those are just a couple of new labels being thrown his way, courtesy of GQ magazine.
Kaepernick stirred controversy during the 2016 football season when he kneeled in protest during the national anthem. Why speak now, when silence has done so much? "At the same time, Colin is all too aware that silence creates a vacuum, and that if it doesn't get filled somehow, someone else will fill it for him". Kaepernick has not taken to any podium to address his firing and the subsequent political firestorm, with players continuing to take a a knee in his absence.
"I always tell Colin: "You are an American hero". I think some folks see his protests, his resistance, as not his work. Ninety-year-old singer and activist Harry Belafonte says seeing people like Kaepernick taking action is "the greatest reward" he could ask for. But according to John Carlos, one of the black Olympians who famously raised his gloved fist during the national anthem at the1968 Summer Games, Kaepernick is "this generation's iconic civil rights leader".