Colin Kaepernick Tattoos: Sporting News Column Ignites Controversy

AOL Fan House/Sporting News columnist David Whitley sparked a controversy with an essay about the body art covering the arms of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Even the QB’s parents didn’t like the column.

Whitley’s column said in part:

“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 …

“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 …

“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.”

Kaepernick’s annoyed mother told USA Today among other things that her son had a 4.0 grade point average in high school, has never been arrested, and has bible verses tattooed on his arms.

Kaepernick’s father added the following thoughts according to USA Today:

“Colin’s a fairly religious kid, but he’s not in your face about it. It’s more about him and what he believes.

“This guy has probably never talked to Colin. 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 guess you just have to roll with the punches.”

Whitley got blasted across the internet for the possible racial overtones over his column, and according to Fox Sports, he defended his views in an email:

“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. 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.”

In response to the controversy, Sporting News Editor in Chief Garry D. Howard wrote that Whitley’s criticism of tattoos primarily reflected a generational difference of opinion: “… 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.”

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, a family of bacteria called Mycobacteria has recently been implicated in an outbreak of serious illnesses linked to contaminated tattoo ink. The Mayo Clinic indicates that in general the risks of getting a tattoo include allergic reactions, skin infections, bloodborne diseases, and MRI complications.

Do you think pro athletes (or college athletes for that matter) have too much body art? Do you agree that one’s perspective on tattoos is based on age? Does it make a difference if a high-profile “face of the franchise” player is covered in tattoos?