Colin Kaepernick said that his love for "the people" inspired his protest and that he would continue his off-field work.
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 unsigned this year in the NFL, Kaepernick accepted the award from Beyoncé 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 as a San Francisco 49ers quarterback to kneel during the national anthem before games 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. But after opting out of his contract with the 49ers, Kaepernick was not signed in free agency. In October, Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance against the NFL.
In his acceptance speech, Kaepernick said he would 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: