Here is a link to my Tuesday column about Colin Kaepernick. The full text runs below:
Met a young guy in Arizona when I was covering spring training — I flew back home on Sunday. Nice young man. Said he was from Turlock.
The bells and whistles went off in my brain.
I said someone famous is from Turlock.
Young guy said Colin Kaepernick.
Yeah, Kaepernick. Did the guy know Kaepernick?
Sure, the guy said. Went to high school with him. John H. Pitman High School. Was in the same year.
Guy said they took AP classes together.
Guy said Kaepernick aced the AP classes. He’s really smart, the guy told me.
Is that so?
Did the guy like Kaepernick?
“He was awesome.” That’s a direct quote.
In my time covering Kaepernick, I may have missed the awesome. I asked the guy to elaborate.
He said Kaepernick was famous in school. He was a great baseball player in addition to being a great football player. A star. None of that went to his head. A regular kid at school. Very well brought up. Everyone liked him. No one resented him. He was popular to the max.
Gee. I think I said gee. It meant the guy knocked me for a loop with this quickie Kaepernick insight.
I mentioned how Kaepernick has conducted himself on the 49ers. Not at the AP level, if you’ll permit the analogy. Almost always rude with the media. Monosyllabic as if putting a subject and a verb together is too much work. Dresses like — look, I don’t have the words or concepts for how he dresses. I know it puts off some people. Others don’t mind. Others like it.
I never have seen the need for Kaepernick’s blatant boredom or condescension. Or the need for the total Colin package which exudes contempt and — old-fogey notion here — bad manners.
The young guy I met in Arizona never had seen Colin act that way, not in person. But he had seen his high-school classmate on TV. He was puzzled by the behavior. Had no explanation for it. The guy on TV is not the friendly, exuberant, admirable Colin the guy grew up with.
The young guy was not putting down Kaepernick. Please don’t think he was. He was defending Kaepernick. Providing relevant background and context. Trying to show the full person, the person he had known. The person he likes and admires.
You probably think Kaepernick’s media persona is irrelevant. And there’s something to be said for that. What does it matter how Kaepernick treats me or Matt Maiocco or Matt Barrows or Grant Cohn or the other writers who cover the club? That’s our problem.
Point well made.
It’s just that a few weeks ago, Kaepernick went after a fan on Twitter. You know that.
No need to go over the unfortunate series of tweets in detail. Believe me, they were highly unfortunate. It’s just that Kaepernick had tweeted he did 1,000 abs. I guess that means abdominal exercises. Sit-ups? And some reader tweeted back that ab work won’t help Kaepernick read defenses.
That is a true statement, by the way. Ab work does not help a quarterback read defenses.
Colin felt the need for justice. Revenge? So he stooped low. In three intemperate tweets he asked the tweeter if he is “illiterate or just ignorant.” Called the tweeter “a clown.” Told the tweeter to “get better at life.”
You take AP classes to write that stuff?
Kaepernick was saying, I think, if someone criticizes him, that someone is a loser.
A former honor student at Pitman High in Turlock should have let the tweeter’s tweet pass. Shown restraint. It never looks good to attack the average Joe. Or even the average Schmoe.
By now, Colin should know that. Or his agent should have taught him. Or the 49ers should have taught him. Judging by Kaepernick’s performance in high school — his GPA was 4.0 — he’s a quick study.
Sometimes, the deepest wisdom is to let things pass. To say nothing. Or to make a joke. Show some humor. Invite the tweeter to one of his workouts. Show the tweeter what an “ab” workout means. Or buy the tweeter a pizza. Win him over.
It’s never a good look when a millionaire star athlete crushes a fan. They should have a class in classy behavior for athletes at high schools across America. They could give AP credit for it.
I wonder if Kaepernick has lost his way. As a person. The guy I met in Arizona said Kaepernick is a man of the utmost quality. I would love to meet that Kaepernick.
You’re probably thinking the way Kaepernick acts with fans and the media is meaningless. He is paid to quarterback the 49ers. Not to win the Mr. Good Guy Award. And that’s true.
Showing better manners in public certainly will not make Kaepernick a better quarterback. It won’t make him a worse quarterback, either.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.