Colin Kaepernick, Tom Brady named to Time's list of '100 Most Influential'

There's a fascinating dichotomy between the pair of NFL quarterbacks who found themselves on Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People" list for 2017. 

On one hand you have Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time and Super Bowl LI winner, who landed as a "Titan" on the list. Brady received a complimentary essay from Conan O'Brien (sure, why not?) on his inclusion of influence, where O'Brien accurately pointed out that there really isn't a need for anyone to explain why Brady belongs.

Tom Brady all but wrote his own tribute when he won his fifth Super Bowl ring and became the greatest quarterback of all time. Even the most virulent haters have no answer for that stroke-inducing overtime win over Atlanta. The mic was dropped.

O'Brien also pointed out that Brady didn't have to become the G.O.A.T. -- he "willed himself" to be better at football and life than he probably ever should have been. He beat the odds and became the greatest to ever play the position, while simultaneously giving Father Time the stiff arm into his late 30s. 

On the other side is Colin Kaepernick, a quarterback who not only is not coming off a Super Bowl, but who remains unemployed for reasons that seem to create a controversy every other day on social media.

Kaepernick, whose decision to kneel during the national anthem last season transcended sportslanded in the "Icons" section of the Time list (we would have put him in the "Pioneers" portion, but whatever) and had an essay penned by former 49ers coach and current Michigan man Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh, apparently, agrees with our assessment, even using "pioneer" in his write up for Kaepernick's inclusion.

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.

Whatever you feel about Kaepernick's acts, it is 100 percent true that he went against the grain in an environment -- professional football -- that does not often encourage acts that fall outside of the norm. He exercised his beliefs and he stood (well, sat) for something. 

Kaepernick will no longer sit for the national anthem (provided he finds employment), but his actions during the 2016 NFL season remain highly influential.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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