Favre compares Kaepernick to Tillman leaving NFL for military

Colin Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season after starting his protest movement

Green Bay Packers great Brett Favre says Colin Kaepernick's decision to put activism ahead of his NFL career echoes Pat Tillman's decision to walk away from the league to join the US military.

In comments to TMZ published on the celebrity news website on Sunday, Favre said Kaepernick -- who has been out of the NFL since 2017 after being widely vilified for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice -- will rightly come to be seen as a hero.

"It's not easy for a guy his age -- black or white, Hispanic, whatever -- to stop something that you've always dreamed of doing, and put it on hold, maybe forever, for something that you believe in," Favre told TMZ Sports.

"I can only think of right off the top of my head, Pat Tillman is another guy that did something similar," Favre said. "And, we regard him as a hero. So, I'd assume that hero status will be stamped with Kaepernick as well."

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick didn't appear to be planning to "leave" the NFL when he began his kneeling protest in 2016.

Tillman, in contrast, walked away from his career as an Arizona Cardinals safety to join the US Army in 2001 after the 9/11 terror attacks in New York.

Tillman was killed while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2004.

While Kaepernick's demonstration made him a lightning rod for controversy and has seen him unable to land an NFL job in four years, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement into the mainstream of American life has caused many of Kaepernick's critics to reverse course.

It still remains to be seen, however, if the 32-year-old will regain a place in the NFL. Favre thinks he could be an effective player.

"I thought he was a dynamic player when he was playing in his prime," Favre said. "He's still young and hasn't been hit in several years, so there's no reason to think that he's lost that much of a step."

Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid of the San Francisco 49ers kneel in protest during the national anthem before an NFL game in 2016