National Football League
Writer defends tattoo criticism of QB
National Football League

Writer defends tattoo criticism of QB

Published Nov. 30, 2012 12:00 a.m. ET

Colin Kaepernick‘s arms are full of tattoos. This apparently ensures that the San Francisco quarterback can never be a legitimate hero for the NFL — or even the 49ers.

That’s what it may sound like AOL Fanhouse's David Whitley thinks, at least. The columnist penned a controversial piece on Thursday centered entirely on Kaepernick’s ink.

“NFL quarterback is the ultimate position of influence and responsibility,” he writes. “He is the CEO of a high-profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.”

Whitley tried to cloak his criticisms underneath a disdain for tattoos.


“For dinosaurs like me,” continues Whitley, “NFL quarterbacks were our little Dutch boys. The original hero stuck his finger in the (dike) 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.”

Inked-up athletes have become the norm in professional sports since the 1990s as hip-hop culture spilled over into mainstream America, beginning mainly in the NBA. But players like tattoo-covered Allen Iverson faced negative reactions from some fans and media in his first few seasons in the league, sparking his defenders to cry racism at times.

In his column, Whitley attempts to preemptively refute any racist overtones.

“Did Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, Doug Williams or Joe Montana have arms covered in ink?" he writes. "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,” he states, before getting into the story of how Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson advised Cam Newton against getting inked up when the club drafted him a few years back.

AOL added a disclaimer to the bottom of the column, saying the writings did not necessarily reflect the company’s opinion.

The column has upset his parents, who adopted Kaepernick when he was a baby.

“It annoyed me,” his mother, Teresa, 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.”

Kaepernick was a 4.0 student in high school, according to his parents. And about those tattoos on his body? Those are bible verses.

Whitley responded to the criticism he has received since the column was posted. In an email to The Sherman Report, Whitley defiantly refuted any racism concerns.

“It didn’t occur to me that admitting I’m not a fan of body art would be admitting I don’t like African-Americans,” he told the website. “I’m pretty sure the middle-aged women at the gym with barbed-wire tats that I referenced are white. So is Jeremy Shockey. If they were old enough to read, my two adopted African-American daughters would certainly be disappointed to find out I’m a racist.”


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