San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is learning that fame is a very delicate thing. It can work wonders for one person while it goes to work on another, and many times, it can do both at the same time. Two seasons ago the young quarterback exploded into stardom by guiding the 49ers to the Super Bowl, and even though they lost the game, it appeared that the sky was the limit for the former second round draft pick. Kaepernick was being praised for his play and labelled as the next big thing. He was on the cover of both Sports Illustrated and GQ magazines, and was working the interview circuit just as the movie stars do. It was all smiles as everybody wanted a piece of the kid from Turlock, California. Fast forward one year, after a heart-breaking playoff loss to division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, Kaepernick is experiencing a much different side to stardom.
The 49ers signal-caller went into this off-season with a thorn in his side after relinquishing an early game lead to Seattle in the NFC Championship. He led a late fourth-quarter drive down the field, threatening to stage a comeback for the ages, until a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the back of the end zone was intercepted, putting an end to the 49ers Super Bowl aspirations. In the post-game press conference Kaepernick put the weight squarely on his shoulders telling the media that he “didn’t play good enough” and that his three turnovers were responsible for the loss.
Once the season came to a close, San Francisco’s determined field general went directly back to work. He flew out to Miami where he was joined by 49ers teammate Quinton Patton, and Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, and together the three men began their off-season training regimen. It was not long, however, before Kaepernick found his name tied up in a mysterious police investigation involving a 25-year-old woman waking up in a hospital with no recollection as to how she got there.
When the story first broke, the woman, who remains nameless, was reportedly partying on April 1 at the suite where the three NFL players were staying, and the next thing she remembered was waking up naked in the hospital. Based upon alleged sexual misconduct involving NFL players in recent years, as well as the legal issues surrounding other 49ers players, many people began to think the worst, and why not, the picture seemed to be painted as such.
However, two days after the story emerged the woman filed a police report stating that she was naked and did not recall how she arrived to the hospital, she stated that her and Kaepernick had not engaged in any sexual activity. Following that revelation, Miami police released information revealing that Ricardo Lockette had made calls to 911 regarding the woman, and that it was Miami Fire Rescue that transported her to the hospital, and though it is not official yet,as the investigation is on-going, but the belief now is that Colin Kaepernick was not even present when all the commotion occurred. Police will be speaking with the attorney representing the three football players in the coming days, and hopefully a quick resolution will be brought to this most puzzling situation.
In an unrelated story, Kaepernick had returned to Turlock this past weekend for a number of sponsor and charity engagements, and at the same time took the opportunity to visit with family. After a 4:00 am wake-up call for a prayer breakfast on Friday morning, Kaepernick decided to attend a matinee movie afterwards with family and a friend in the hopes that the theater would be near empty. As it turned out two kids with their father recognized him inside the theater, and after the movie they decided to ask for a picture. Kaepernick declined apologetically, explaining that he and the family were in a hurry. Later that day the father of those children took to Facebook, of all places, to lash out about the quarterback’s treatment of the situation. Then, while hurrying to the car outside of the theater, the Kaepernicks were approached by a woman wearing the quarterback’s jersey with a child in tow. She also wanted a picture, but when number seven once again declined apologetically the woman cursed at them right in front of the kid. One week its playoff heroics and GQ photo shoots, and the next its misleading headlines and cursing fans. All is par for the course as Colin Kaepernick continues to learn how delicate this fame thing can be.
How he learns will be the key. By this point he has most certainly realized that he cannot do simple things like going to restaurants or shopping centers without people stopping and wanting a picture or his autograph. The current investigation in Miami should prove as a perfect example that he must be careful of the company he keeps. He is a rising star quarterback in the NFL and therefore he is always under the spotlight. As long as he plays football, his every move on and off the field will be under a microscope. He will be analyzed and constantly scrutinized by not only the sports news, but by media outlets and tabloids in general. That is the name of the game in today’s social media driven world, for as many doors as fame will open, many old ones will slam shut.
Is it fair that the famous are held to a higher standard than the ordinary every day citizen? Is it fair that society monitors every move of the rich and famous casting judgement upon them as their lives are torn apart and dissected in the daily news? After all, everyone is human, and everyone makes mistakes. And why is it that people believe they are entitled to pictures and autographs from celebrities, that the famous should always drop what they are doing in all circumstances to serve some stranger’s desires? It is a sad state of affairs when someone cannot understand that an athlete wants to spend time with family, and just because they are in a public place it does not mean they are a public servant of some sort.
Colin Kaepernick might have made a mistake throwing the pass to Crabtree in the NFC Championship. He may have made an ill-advised decision by giving the opportunity for his name to be involved in a strange police investigation in Miami. There is even the chance that he might have been able to squeeze in a few seconds for a picture with some young fans, but, it is all part of an education in stardom as Colin Kaepernick is learning that fame is a very delicate thing.
Commentary by Kalen Skalesky