Players vote on who should win the award given to the "49er who best exemplifies the inspirational and courageous play of Len Eshmont, an original member of the 1946 49ers team," according to 49ers.com. "Eshmont, who coached at Navy and Virginia following his career in San Francisco, died in 1957. The award was established that year."
Kaepernick notoriously sat or knelt down during the national anthem during the NFL season to protest police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in August. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
But Washington Redskins great Joe Theismann doesn't think Kaepernick deserves the honor. He said so Tuesday on Fox News.
"The players voted for it," Theismann said. "You question players at times. They just sort of move along in mass and do this. I don't agree with what he has done. As a matter of fact, the American flag, and I wear one on my lapel very proudly, no matter where I go, it stands for the right to be able to do the things that you want to do. To be able to stand up and have a difference of opinion and I agree with that part of it. But not when you are on the job. I would like to see the National Football League finally stand up and take a stance and say: as a part of our new policy, going forward, we are going to adopt the same policy that the NBA has. That you will stand for the national anthem."
"I just find it hard to believe. You're a 2-14 football team; he's won one football game. What has he inspired?" Theismann said.
Theismann told the cast of Outnumbered that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hasn't had a strong enough hand on the issue. Kaepernick completed 196-of-331 passes for 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns, and four interceptions this season. He also rushed for 468 yards and two touchdowns.
"I think [Goodell] has been wishy-washy on it," Theismann said. "I think you have to stand up and present it to the owners. Clark Hunt, who owns the Kansas City Chiefs, made it very, very clear. You will stand...if you are in the organization, if you are on the team, on the coaching staff. If you don't, you will be gone. Period. Nice simple statement. I think that the National Football League has to take a stance."
"It's about the veterans. It's about the veteran memorial. It's about those who have fought and served and died. It's about the police officers that defend our lives. It's more than just an individual. This award doesn't mean anything for me."
"What did you inspire? He's 1-11 as a quarterback, what are you possibly inspiring?"
Theismann said he also "has a real problem" with Kaepernick for wearing socks to practice, depicting police officers as pigs.
"Everybody has the right to express their opinion, but not in the workplace," Theismann said. "I pay you to do a job."
The former Super Bowl winning quarterback did get some blowback for his opinion, including from 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith.
"Who cares what he thinks? Everyone from DMV knows he is one of the most arrogant people ever...his opinion has no value," Smith tweeted Wednesday.
Who cares what he thinks? Everyone from DMV knows he is one of the most arrogant people ever..his opinion has no value https://t.co/9GwSaeEUVi— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) January 4, 2017
Smith went on to explain how him and his little brother were once snubbed for an autograph from Theismann. He praised the late Sean Taylor for signing his book instead.
The game was over we got lost and ran into the players lot. I saw some crazy cars and what I know now as the "autograph dudes" just chillinAdvertisement— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) January 4, 2017
"Anyways that's my story for the day....I have no beef with Theismann...he helped me with how I try to interact with fans," Smith tweeted.
Joe Theisman...he signed for a few of the guys he knew and I asked him for an autograph and he looked me in the eyes and said NO... pic.twitter.com/CBgu3OFkbz— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) January 4, 2017
Theismann, 67, completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 25,206 yards, 160 touchdowns, and 138 interceptions in 12 seasons for the Redskins. He was once selected as a first-team All-Pro and was a two-time Pro Bowl pick. Theismann posted a 6-2 record in the playoffs.