Thank God this idiot is not making decisions that affect my life. Tattoos of bible verses would get me hanged if he was in charge.
Colin Kaepernick Ushers In an Inked-Up NFL Quarterbacking Era
by David Whitley
San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick is going to be a big-time NFL quarterback. That must make the guys in San Quentin happy.
Approximately 98.7 percent of the inmates at California’s state prison have tattoos. I don’t know that as fact, but I’ve watched enough “Lockup” to know it’s close to accurate.
I’m also pretty sure less than 1.3 percent of NFL quarterbacks have tattoos. There’s a reason for that.
NFL quarterback is the ultimate position of influence and responsibility. He is the CEO of a high-profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.
Now along comes Kaepernick. Since taking over for Alex Smith two games ago, he has convinced everybody in the Bay area that he’s the second coming of Steve Young.
Smith is coming back from a concussion, ushering in the attendant QB controversy. But he is looking like Wally Pipp and Kaepernick is Lou Gehrig. All I can do is look in the mirror and sigh.
Forgive me, but I suffer from tattoo-ism. I sport no ink, and I don’t want any. I know that attitude qualifies me for an AARP card, and I’ve tried to get with it.
I realize tattoos are ways to pay homage to your religion, children and motorcycle gang. I’m cool with LeBron James looking like an Etch A Sketch.
I still cringe when I go to the gym and see middle-aged women with barbed wire circling their biceps. They have bigger arms than I, so I never make fun. But I can’t shake the notion that a person’s body is a temple, and you don’t cover temples in graffiti.
For dinosaurs like me, NFL quarterbacks were our little Dutch boys. The original hero stuck his finger in the dyke to save Holland. Pro QBs were the last line of defense against the raging sea of ink. When our kids said they wanted a tattoo, we could always point to the Manning brothers.
My guess is Archie would have made Peyton throw an extra 1,000 passes before dinner if he’d come home with a tattoo. The old man knew QBs are different.
Did Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, Doug Williams or Joe Montana have arms covered in ink? Do Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers? The world will end when Tim Tebow shows up a tattoo parlor.
It’s not just a white thing, I hope. When the Panthers interviewed Cam Newton, owner Jerry Richardson popped the question.
“Do you have any tattoos?” he asked.
“No, sir,” Newton said. “I don’t have any.”
“We want to keep it that way,” Richardson said.
He was OK with body art on other players, including the human canvas that is Jeremy Shockey. But Newton would be the face, arms and legs of the franchise. The boss didn’t want them covered in ink lines.
“Let’s keep it that way,” he told Newton.
I realize not all NFL quarterbacks are pristine. Ben Roethlisberger has a “COURAGE” tattoo on the right side of his upper body. Smith has one honoring his Serbian heritage. They can’t be seen when the players put on their uniforms.
Then there are Michael Vick and Terrelle Pryor. Neither exactly fit the CEO image, unless your CEO has done a stretch in Leavenworth or has gotten Ohio State on probation over free tattoos.
That’s what makes Kaepernick a threat to the stereotype. By all accounts, he’s polite, hard working, humble and has never been to prison. He sounds more like a Tebow who can throw.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves here, but it’s not hard to envision him leading the 49ers into the playoffs. If not this season, in the years to come.
His ink-covered arms will one day raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Imagine the impact that could have.
For one thing, Jerry Richardson would clutch his chest in horror. At the next Pro Bowl, you might spot Peyton by the pool with a Papa John’s logo on his ankle.
I still think tattoo removal is going to be huge industry in the coming years. But for now, I might as well accept that Holland is probably doomed.
If you can’t draw the tattoo line at NFL quarterback, you can’t draw them anywhere.
The editor of Sporting New responded after a large backlash to the article. Here's his response.
In a Sporting News opinion piece, columnist David Whitley attempted to point out his total distaste of tattoos and, more specifically, tattoos on an NFL quarterback.
Whitley, who is the father of two adopted African-American daughters, was roundly criticized in some circles, even being labeled a racist by others.
Hold on a minute.
Too often in today’s society, great discussions are ground into dust because many find it impossible to articulate specifically what bothers them about a certain subject.
Whitley’s message was somewhat lost in his flurry of one-liners, but his intention was sincere and honest.
As a sports editor who also happens to be African-American, it is my job to vet each and every opinion piece to ensure that the message does not get lost and I certainly could have done more, in retrospect, to make sure it did not. In particular, the inference that many people with tattoos have been to prison, or that having tattoos is an indicator of criminality, was problematic to many readers.
Still, the overriding point of the column was there and one nationally televised discussion, in particular—on "First Take" with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless—did a great job of explaining that the column was indeed more generational in tone and that tattoos in today’s society are not necessarily a great thing for young, prospective job candidates of all races.
I asked David for his thoughts after a long day:
“The idea struck me Sunday when Kaepernick gallantly dashed into the end zone and extended the football with his heavily tattooed arm,” explained Whitley in an e-mail. “I thought, ‘Now there’s sight you haven’t seen much of.’
“It seemed like it might be interesting to readers, so away we went. As I wrote, I don’t get the whole tattoo thing. I know that makes me an old man, but I see bodies covered in artwork and I think, ‘That man/woman is going to regret that when things start sagging in 20 years.’
“I fully realize sailors and Hell’s Angels aren’t the only people with tattoos these days. But tattoos still carry a negative stigma, which is why you don’t see a lot of politicians and captains of industry sporting ink.
“NFL QB represents the ultimate CEO figure in sports. And it’s been tattoo-free except for the few players who’ve lived up (or down) to the bad-guy tattoo image. Now along comes Kaepernick, a role model in the Tim Tebow category. His success would help shatter the tattoo stereotype. If old guys like me have a hard time dealing with that, too bad for us.
“That was my intended point,” he continued. “I wish I’d done a better job getting that across. What I didn’t factor in was that admitting I don’t like tattoos was going to be equated with me admitting I don’t like African-Americans. The women at the gym I referenced in that column are white. So is Jeremy Shockey. I once asked Dwight Howard if he’d ever get a tattoo, and he said no way. His aversion was based on religious ground. Mine was based on the fact I think tattoos look silly. I knew that would stamp me an Old Man. I didn’t know it would stamp me a racist.
“I’m going to have a hard time explaining that to my two adopted African-American daughters.”
Hindsight always helps you see things clearer and the reaction to this—even inside our very own newsroom and the discussion I joined on Twitter last night and earlier today—has surely opened our eyes. It was not our intent to offend anyone, and if we did, we apologize.
However, we should be able to—in this day and time—have a discussion on the subject of tattoos without it morphing into a race debate when in fact, it was about a new generation doing things in a fresh and different manner.
That’s all I’m saying.
Garry D. Howard is Editor-in-Chief of The Sporting News.