Quarterbacks in the NFL assume an identity, that they use to captain their teams. The position of leadership often portrays them as the face of an organization and heart of a team. With all the access fans have to QB’s quotes, play making abilities and personal life, liking a player for who they are all around is easier than ever. Naturally, with the heightened ability to love, hatred for men we’ve never met is just as easily attained. Now, before I begin I will say: It’s wrong to judge people and you shouldn’t do it, but since I’ve been in a love/hate relationship with Colin Kaepernick for the last few years, I’m writing this to try and sort out my feelings.
It’s not you Colin, It’s me.
I’ve lived relatively close to San
Francisco my entire life.
The Oakland Coliseum is almost the same distance from my area but I’ve never felt a strong connection to the Nation…Except for maybe briefly when Randy Moss played for them. Well now that I think about it Randy Moss was my favorite player during that time, but I will get to that later.
Since I started to pay attention to the NFL, the 49ers haven’t been anything spectacular. I might take a lot of heat for this, but I think it’s fair to say that the Alex Smith years were mediocre at best. When asked about the niners in my younger days, I would probably have shrugged and said, “Ehh pretty crappy.”
Now I’m no stat freak, like many of my friends, but I also ain’t no bandwagoner. I’m find myself fairly unattached to any NFL organization. My parents hail from Baltimore and I grew up cheering on the Ravens. I supported them during both of their super bowl victories. Also, anytime the Steelers lose I feel a little better about my day, but I’ve recently decided that I don’t follow them close enough to consider myself a true fan.
The Bay Area’s success in sports across the board over the last few years has been truly exciting to watch, even to a filthy casual like myself. But since I feel no real connection to any of these teams, it’s tough for me to decide which players I like and which I do not.
Most particularly I find myself in a conflicting battle about my feelings towards Colin Kaepernick…
At the mature age of 21 I’m often thinking about the balance between athletic composure and ballerism. As I stated earlier, Randy Moss was one of my favorite players. Whether it was his criminal record, on-field antics or just his “Don’t give a shit” attitude, something about me loved that. Also, it’s possibly important to note that I played football during his years in Oakland, and like Randy, I was a receiver. Unlike Randy, I am white, ran a second and a half slower in 40 yard dash and only recorded 4 catches in my career. But who are you to tell a young boy which players they can’t look up to?
As I’ve “matured” I’ve realized how important professionalism is at the top level of any athletic field (and off the field for that matter).
Well, I love Johnny Football, but we are the same age-c’mon.
Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh have brought an energizing youth to a traditional program that was lackluster for a number of years previous. Anyone who says that the last few seasons of Kaep throwing bombs or doing his unorthodox scramble aren’t exciting is just lying. I think this new sense of niner pride is great for them.
I’ll jump up and hold my breath when he scampers for a first down, but I still can’t stop from slightly hating on him.
From just watching him play and his interviews, its easy to tell that he walks with a little strut.
But has he earned it?
At a young age, Colin Kaepernick’s versatile athleticism became apparent and was demonstrated when he attended University of Nevada Reno, not only to play quarterback but also to pitch for their baseball team. In the pistol offense, Kaepernick ran wild with the Wolfpack and became the first player in NCAA history to rush for over 1000 yards as well as pass for over 2000, three consecutive years in a row.
In 2011 I began feeling a bit of distaste for the 49ers, not due to Kaep as an individual but the fact that they had started winning, and like all other winning teams, “fans” seemingly appeared from thin air.
Now one of the only teams I consider myself a true fan of is the Sacramento Kings. Since the time I’ve been aware of bandwagoners, the Kings haven’t been able to draw any. Which means I haven’t really had to deal with the frustration of new people that “love” my team when they are on the rise, but have been silent during the slumps in seasons…But I imagine it to be quite frustrating.
Also, many of my friends (particularly roommates at the time) are committed Forever Faithfuls and it’s always fun to see them get riled up during game time.
To complicate my feelings towards the Niners further, my former favorite player, Randy Moss, had signed with San Francisco that year after sitting out the season prior. Once Kaepernick took over for the injured Alex Smith in week 10 of his second season, his start position was solidified and SF fans praised him as their savior. The new quarterback and veteran receiver differed in age by ten years but were able to connect more than 20 times in the remaining games, which serendipitously included their final loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the famous Hardbaugh Bowl.
Like Randy Moss, one might say that Kaepernick and I are a steep contrasts in human beings, and I don’t object. BUT there are two notable connections I take into account when weighing my feelings towards the Niners on any given Sunday.
For two years, my and Kaepernick’s high schools played preseason games against each other. Though, he had already graduated and I only participated (briefly) in one of the games, I still think that it would have been cool if we suited up against each other.
A more understandable (less fanboyish) connection involves his establishment of secondary education. The University of Nevada Reno has always been a scrappy team in the MWC/ WAC and most of their games are won or lost within a couple touchdowns. They aren’t as glamorous as many top tier teams in the BCS and they don’t generate a huge fan base. I’ve never been a student at UNR, I’ve never been anywhere on campus except the football stadium-but I consider myself a loyal fan.
When I graduated high school in 2011 one of my good friends broke his promise, last minute of running track with me at our local community college. Instead of the marinating in the glamour that would accompany high jumping as a Roadrunner, Jordan Dobrich decided to walk on as a redshirt to the Wolfpack football team. Three years later I’ve begun to forgive him, as he has transformed from talented redshirt to a starting linebacker and team captain.
The Wolfpack might not win as many games or put up as many points as the Oregon Ducks, but personally knowing someone on the field makes these games far more exciting to me.
Knowing that Kaepernick trained in the same place and played on the same field as my friend builds some sort of connection I can’t really explain. Not that it’s that deep or powerful, but it falls under some law of relativity (or proximity?) I haven’t yet studied or fully understand.
Kaepernick can be hot headed.
Part of me loves that he talks shit, has a signature celebration, and was named GQ’s Athlete of the Year.
Part of me hates that.
Tatts? Love em.
Beats by Dre deal? Hell yeah.
I’m not sure what the specifics are involving players’ endorsements with alcohol companies but I can guarantee that he would be first inline to take a Ciroq sponsorship.
I can see him now wearing a black evening blazer and putting one through a glass ring with soft blue lighting before saying, “Smooth as spiral from young Kaep,” then taking a shot.
As I’ve previously stated, I think about this a lot…
Kaepernick is a different breed of Quarterbacks. He’s not the crew cut white male who checks down his receivers before getting down to take a LOY. He makes risky passes and scrambles with spider-like legs that make all of us hold our breath.
After all of my analytical research, I feel more won over (but not entirely) by this guy. With no criminal record and plenty of money to throw at the lame penalties the NFL keeps issuing, it appears that King Kaep should be around long enough to prove exactly how not tired he gets and to dispel the doubters.