Kaepernick’s parents bothered by criticism of tattoos

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Before Thursday, I hadn’t heard of David Whitley.  I now have.  And my first impression of his work isn’t good.

In a possible attempt by a pair of dying brands to regain relevance in a world with more digital options than eyeballs to consume them, Whitley has penned a so-stodgy-it’s-edgy column for the AOL/Sporting News joint venture that criticizes Colin Kaepernick’s ink.

Crafted carefully (for the most part) to avoid legitimate complaints of racism, Whitley’s implicit message arguably could be boiled down thusly:  He prefers NFL quarterbacks to be white, or to at least act white.

In the interests of clarity and fairness, Whitley didn’t say that.  But that’s the sense I got while reading his words, including:

1.  “He is the CEO of a high-profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.”

2.  “For dinosaurs like me, NFL quarterbacks were our little Dutch boys.”

3.  “It’s not just a white thing, I hope.”

I’m not even sure what the last sentence means.  Reading the full column in one continuous chunk of words, it feels like he’s lamenting the disappearance of the good old days, when quarterbacks were not only tattoo-free but also pigment-free.

Regardless of Whitley’s conscious or subconscious motivations, Kaepernick’s parents aren’t happy that their adopted son has been compared to prison inmates.

It annoyed me,” Teresa Kaepernick told USA Today.  “You are categorizing this kid on something like tattoos?  Really?  Saying other guys are role models because they don’t have them?  Really?  Some of these other guys don’t have crystal clear reputations.  That’s how you’re going to define this kid?  It’s pretty irritating, but it is what it is.”

“This guy has probably never talked to Colin,” Rick Kaepernick said.  “Instead of saying that Colin does all these great things and donates his time to children, this guy is going to make him out like a gangster.  Really?”

I’m no stranger to the criticism that flows in response to opinions that reflect old-school attitudes that come, for example, from the days when the husbands smoked cigarettes and read Life magazine while watching Walter Cronkite in the waiting room as their kids were being born.  But the idea that quarterbacks shouldn’t have tattooed arms has no relevance to anything that would be remotely relevant to playing the sport of football, at any level.

Except for folks who prefer their quarterbacks to be fair-haired and fair-skinned, or at a minimum to behave as if they are.

52 responses to “Kaepernick’s parents bothered by criticism of tattoos

  1. Yeah. We need more QBs like Art Schlichter, Ryan Leaf, and Ben Roethlisberger.

    They may be drug addicts, theives, and rapists… but they don’t have tattoos. That’s important.

  2. Tattoos were sort of cool before they became mainstream in the last decade. Nowadays, if you want to show your “individuality” and “express” yourself then be one of the few without them.

  3. Damn shame this guy criticised Kaepernick simply on his appearance. Atheletes are entertainers, who in turn, are expressionists. Tattoo’s are a form of expression – from hippies to gangsters, to artists.

    You have some police officers even super tattoo’d across their body!

    It’s a shame how small some people’s mindsets are.

    Colin seems like a cool grounded kid and will accomplish more good in his life – than this butt head that wrote the article.

  4. Try this opinion on: I think the long-hair and the dreads in the NFL has gotten completely ridiculous, and this includes Clay Matthews. Anytime it takes an NFL player longer to get his hair styled than the average NFL cheerleader…well, let’s just say a very famous coach would yell: ‘WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OUT THERE?!?’

  5. Totally understand and agree with the points in this post, but how is this different than Jerry Richardson telling Cam Newton that he doesn’t want him to grow his hair out and get any tattoos? Aside from Jerry being the guy who signs his checks, aren’t these opinions the same?

  6. I just asked my brother the other day if any other quarterbacks were tatted up. It’s really strange how common they are in the NFL but how rare they are among quarterbacks.

  7. For ANYONE to criticize him for his tattoo’s is just pathetic. Than to mention of the whole white quarterback thing is wrong too. We live in a diverse world that is totally different than the old days of football obviously and I am white myself with tattoos.

  8. “I’m not a quarterback but I do play one on tv.”

    The crew cut look went away with Johnny Unitas.


  9. To each his own. It’s equal parts hilarious and disturbing that this clown feels comfortable writing an article like that in 2012.

  10. Everyone has an individual right to do as they please with their body. To spend hours writing an article about his(David Whitley) opinion regarding Kaepernick’s tattoos is ludicrous, at best.

    Appreciate your take on this, Mike.

  11. Him having tattoos does not change anything, it can’t, tattoos are already as mainstream as possible so a successful NFL QB having them wont change things much. I don’t care if a guy has tats or not as long as he can ball. That said he would look better with out them as would almost everyone else with them.

  12. “In a possible attempt by a pair of dying brands to regain relevance…” Someone is feeling a little confident this morning.

  13. If you read the article and find racism, you were looking for racism. He was criticizing tattoos, not Kaepernick. He actually praised Kaepernick. This post seems to be written to generate page hits from a race-baiting opinion.

  14. Tattoos: a permanent manifestation of a temporary feeling. I’m sure they’ll look awesome when he’s 55.

  15. 1. “He is the CEO of a high-profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.”

    This is the only quote I kind of agree with. I know kids in highschool and college that got tatoos and they got them as long as they would be covered up by regular clothes. The idea being that in a job interview, they didnt want them to show and look “unprofessional”.

    The grey area is that he is an athlete which means it shouldnt really matter, but QBs are looked at as the face of the franchise.

  16. Balck, white, red, green, purple, covered in tats, no tats, lots of hair, bald….none of these make a QB. Can he make the throws, can he read a defense, and can he lead his teammates? This is how you define a QB. If you want a stereotypical QB look, watch a movie.

  17. Kudos to Florio for calling out this writer for his veiled and possibly unintentional racism, that will take time for those types of thoughts from journalists to not be so standard, and other journalists like you calling them out is how things change.

  18. truthfactory-

    1) Why does someone with tattoos look like they just got paroled?

    2) If Kaepernick showed up at a job interview, you wouldn’t know he had a single tattoo. So people like you would be forced to, you know, judge him on his character. Which is what you should do anyway.

  19. In my last decade of working at jobs & interacting with relatively young folk who happen to have tattoos (small & large) compared to ones who do not have such extraneous things on their arms, necks, small of their backs, azzes, etc., I’ve found the ones with tattoos are BY FAR the ones with the poorer work ethics and sour attitudes I have ever seen in my life. Some call it a fashion trend with people in all walks of life getting them the last several years, but it really speaks volumes to an individuals character & headspace that they’d consciously spend time and money having garbage like that done to themselves. It’s good of this David Whitley to proffer his 2 cents on this matter. Also, cancel all reality TV shows except for NBC ones.

  20. Crazy thing is that everyone stereotypes. We all do. This guy did it in print. Probably not good for his career.

    People judge other people. They just do. Tats get guys like Kaepernick judged.

    I don’t have tats. Had my ankle in a stirrup once about to get the “frat tat” done and decided not to do it at the last minute. No regrets. If I permanently inked everything that I thought was cool at different stages of life, I’d look like an idiot.

    Just my opinion, your mileage may vary.

  21. First of all, I read the article and in my opinion you overdid it trying to extract some racial angle on the piece. It’s just not there.

    Secondly, an arm full of tattoos can and does send a rough message to certain segments of the population. Often religious and/or conservative people see them in a negative light. Most tattooees know this and certainly every tattoo artist out there does.

    Should it be that way? No, it’s his body, his choice. But that doesn’t change the perception.

  22. Wow! David Whitley is crazy. Colin Kaepernick is a fine young man and a great QB. I like his Tatoos. David must be jealous or something. We are in the year 2012 and some people still just don’t have any tolerance for other people. I bet all of us NFL Football fans will remember Colin’s name for decades. We’ll forget this David guys name in a couple days! Ha Ha! Geaux Saints!

  23. Check out the NBA. Almost every player has tats now. Some of them are out of hand.

    The best one CK& has is the one that says “FAITH” on that bullet of an arm of his!

  24. Has Mr. Whitley ever ventured to the West Coast? I’m from the Midwest and his line of thinking is more commonplace here, but having lived in California I know that there are lawyers with tattoo sleeves. Tattoos don’t define a person, it’s an art form and form of expression. Some people like them, some don’t… But to each their own, what does his opinion matter?

  25. Long time 49er fan for over 50 years so you know what generation that puts me in. Do I like Kaep’s tatts (isn’t that what the younger generation refers to them as?) Not really but they are on his body and not mine so what does his appearance have to do with the way he plays football?

    I think that it’s become mainstream, particularly with athletes, so this is a non-issue and certainly not worthy of a published article.

    A lot of old-timers resent the changes that have been made in society but there’s nothing new about that. Each generation wants to separate themselves from previous generations.

    I suspect that if Colin were interviewing for a professional position he’d probably wear long sleeves, but we’re talking about ahtletes in different uniforms having the ability to display their ink.

  26. Jacobslatter…. So if I follow your thinking, a large percentage of our military has tattoos, they are all lazy and have bad attitudes then? You’re an idiot, just like Whitley. It’s a new generation, people get tattoos for different reasons (military service, loss of friends/family). So since I was proud to be a Marine, I lost my father and my three best friends and decided to pay tribute to them by having tattoos, I’m lazy and have a bad attitude?

  27. It’s funny, I was telling my wife yesterday that Capernick had a sleeve of Tats on each arm and he was a tough looking kid, but when he takes his helmet off, he has a big smile and looks like a great kid.

    And Tattoos are so pervasive now in society that you really can’t judge the book by its cover now more than ever.

  28. Kaepernick has been terrific and that’s the only thing that matters. The haters and dinosaurs from the last century can go hang!
    And old folks complaining about the length of the kids hair?
    Come on!

  29. It is Colin’s right to tat up.
    It is this dudes right to not like it.
    It is our right to go back to our lives not even knowing this dude exists.

    I see nothing wrong here.

  30. People need to get over themselves. A tattoo is just a form of expression and there is nothing wrong with them in general. Sure, just like anything else in this world, a Tattoo may be an ill conceived idea (like your new girlfriend’s name) but a lot of them have a symbolic meaning. The article lumps religion, family and motorcycle gangs into the same sentence which is not a fair assessment. Sure people get them because they are in a gang but that is different than those that get them for family or religion. Also, a large portion of our soldiers get inked for a lot of reasons. Proud to be a Marine, remembering a lost comrade, a ship lost. As to CEOs not having tattoos I would take a stab and say there are a bunch that do. Particularly in Asian countries or CEOs with military background.

    I am proud of the tattoos I have and I will be so at whatever age I may reach. They have meaning to me and that will never change. I am proud to be an American so I have an Eagle. I also show my loyalty, to my high school that was closed, with a Bulldog. I know many people who have ink and some will regret them but most will not.

  31. There are two ways to tell if someone is tough:
    1. If they have a tatoo
    2. If they are a seelers fan

  32. everyone can keep on hating when kaepernick displays his tattoos as he holds up the lombardi trophy.

    49ers organization dont care what anyone thinks. and thats all that matters.

  33. The military has a policy against showing body ink. If 80 percent of your arms is covered you can not wear short sleeves. When I was in Kuwait it was hot a hell and there was a guy who had to wear long sleeves when he worked out because of ink.

  34. Tattoos don’t make people criminals. Bad decisions and poor choices make a person a criminal.

    And as far as I can see, Kaepernick has made some pretty stellar choices in his life to get where he is today.

  35. This reminds of me of Homer’s Simpsons dad on one episode where he tells Homer that Unitas is a man’s QB, not Joe Namath because we all know where that leads:
    Wash, rinse repeat…always repeat

  36. Not a 9ers fan, but I am an NFL fan. I like Kaepernick. I think he’s exciting to watch, seems smart, high character.

    But I don’t like tattoos, on him or any of my friends that have them, although since they can’t ever be (completely) erased I’d never say that to their faces.

    Tats are just so trite and hipster cliche, not to mention generally pretty bad art. Time to move on.

  37. redandgoldhitman52 says: Nov 30, 2012 12:57 PM

    everyone can keep on hating when kaepernick displays his tattoos as he holds up the lombardi trophy.

    49ers organization dont care what anyone thinks. and thats all that matters.

    He won’t be hoisting any Lombardis with San Francisco, unless he visited Canton.

  38. He’s the quarterback for the most liberal city in America, maybe on Earth. Get over it. How stupid.

  39. “He is the CEO of a high-profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.” – By interpreting this as racist, Florio is saying, “Criminal = Black” There are many tatted up skinheads that would be very offended by that stereotype.

    Not that it means he can’t be racist, but apparently the author of the article has two adopted . . . . African American daughters . . . .

    Culturally out of touch, maybe, but I don’t see the racism.

  40. This sounds like the guy who said nfl players should only have children in the offseason.

  41. Yes, tatoos are some form of expression; doesn’t mean that other can’t express that sleeve tats are ugly as hell and make wearers–however much “good kids,” they are, and however accomplished–looked like parolees.

  42. I love the statement “it might be cool now, but you’ll regret it when you are 55 years old” or something along those lines. As a person who has tattoos in memory of loved ones who have passed away, I promise I won’t regret these tomorrow, when I’m 55, or when I’m 95. Just because tattoos aren’t for you does not mean that they are a mistake or a bad idea.

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