Perception isn’t Necessarily Reality

There’s this vivid time period for me as a student manager for my high school basketball team.  I was approximately 10 years old, and I had the same passion for sports then, as I do now.  I loved being around the team.  It was everything to me to watch and participate in all of the practices.

This particular season, our head coach at the time bought me this white polo shirt to wear for every game.  They had our own name, our title, and our team name embroidered on them in black.  I detested that shirt.  I got a lot of flack for that shirt.  The team would razz me endlessly for dressing up.  They called me “preppy.” People I didn’t know would walk up to me endlessly and say, “hi Jeff.”  As a boy of that age, that was a very big deal for me.    I just did not understand why I had to wear that damn white polo shirt.

I learned a valuable life lesson based off that shirt.  On a frigid, Nebraska winter day, my dad was driving me to the school for yet another basketball.  Dressed in my pearly, white polo and mired in my own depression based off that same very shirt, my dad never flinched.  He didn’t turn his head to look at me.  I don’t think he even blinked.  His eyes glaring on the road, my dad says, “Jeff, ya know what, you’re just going to have to learn to stop caring about what everyone else thinks.”

Colin Kaepernick has appeared to master that very life lesson.  In Kaepernick’s 14 months as the face of the San Francisco 49ers franchise, he’s been thoroughly dissected.  In no particular order, let’s recap a few high profile ones.

*David Whitley wrote an AOL Fanhouse column stating that Kapernick looked like he was “just paroled” based on his numerous tattoos.

*During Super Bowl media week last season Kap was consistently labeled as boring and would consistely “grunt one syllable answers” according to New York Post’s Bart Hubbuch.

*Over this past summer, he was berated by the masses (I don’t disagree on this one) for being photographed wearing a Miami Dolphins hat.

*After a week 10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, Trent Dilfer stated that Kapernick has “plateaued as a passer” and was “remedial” when looking past his first receiving option.

*Just recently, media members have criticized the 49ers quarterback for wearing his hat backwards.  New York based sportswriter Sal Maiorana tweeted (since been deleted) that Kaepernick needs to “turn your hat around and act like a professional quarterback.”

*Heath Evans labeled Colin Kaepernick as “selfish” for his emulation of Cam Newton’s end zone celebration.

I’m sure there’s more criticism out there.  In fact, I know there’s plenty.  Just funnel through Twitter at any given time.  It’s quite apparent that Colin Kapernick simply rubs some people the wrong way.  But, here we are.  The San Francisco 49ers are on the verge of their third straight trip to the NFC title game.  And the leader for the second consecutive season is none other than Colin Kapernick.

Is he brash? Or is he humble?  Is he cocky? Or is he just confident?  You know what?  It just doesn’t matter.  Kaepernick just plays football, and he seems to understand that.  He handles media situations the way he wants to and be damned about your opinion of him.  Sure, he’s had endorsement deals with Jaguar, MusclePharm and Mogo Sport.  He’s also been in commercials for McDonald’s and Beats and been on the cover of numerous magazines.  But, Colin Kaepernick stays within himself.  And within himself, he’s simply the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.  He’s simply the lead man who’s competing to win the 49ers another Lombardi Trophy.  He’s doing it his way.  I certainly don’t see anything wrong with that.



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