San Franciscoís Colin Kaepernick is going to be a big-time NFL quarterback. That must make the guys in San Quentin happy.
Approximately 98.7 percent of the inmates at Californiaís state prison have tattoos. I donít know that as fact, but Iíve watched enough ďLockupĒ to know itís close to accurate.
Iím also pretty sure less than 1.3 percent of NFL quarterbacks have tattoos. Thereís 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 donít want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.
Now along comes Kaepernick. Since taking over for Alex Smith two games ago, he has convinced everybody in the Bay area that heís the second coming of Steve Young.
Smith is coming back from a concussion, ushering in the attendant QB controversy. But he is looking like Wally Pipp and Kaepernick is Lou Gehrig. All I can do is look in the mirror and sigh.
Forgive me, but I suffer from tattoo-ism. I sport no ink, and I donít want any. I know that attitude qualifies me for an AARP card, and Iíve tried to get with it.
I realize tattoos are ways to pay homage to your religion, children and motorcycle gang. Iím cool with LeBron James looking like an Etch A Sketch.
I still cringe when I go to the gym and see middle-aged women with barbed wire circling their biceps. They have bigger arms than I, so I never make fun. But I canít shake the notion that a personís body is a temple, and you donít cover temples in graffiti.
For dinosaurs like me, NFL quarterbacks were our little Dutch boys. The original hero stuck his finger in the dyke to save Holland. Pro QBs were the last line of defense against the raging sea of ink. When our kids said they wanted a tattoo, we could always point to the Manning brothers.
My guess is Archie would have made Peyton throw an extra 1,000 passes before dinner if heíd come home with a tattoo. The old man knew QBs are different.
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.
Itís not just a white thing, I hope. When the Panthers interviewed Cam Newton, owner Jerry Richardson popped the question.
Do you have any tattoos?Ē he asked.
ďNo, sir,Ē Newton said. ďI donít have any.Ē
ďWe want to keep it that way,Ē Richardson said.
He was OK with body art on other players, including the human canvas that is Jeremy Shockey. But Newton would be the face, arms and legs of the franchise. The boss didnít want them covered in ink lines.
ďLetís keep it that way,Ē he told Newton.
I realize not all NFL quarterbacks are pristine. Ben Roethlisberger has a ďCOURAGEĒ tattoo on the right side of his upper body. Smith has one honoring his Serbian heritage. They canít be seen when the players put on their uniforms.
Then there are Michael Vick and Terrelle Pryor. Neither exactly fit the CEO image, unless your CEO has done a stretch in Leavenworth or has gotten Ohio State on probation over free tattoos.
Thatís what makes Kaepernick a threat to the stereotype. By all accounts, heís polite, hard working, humble and has never been to prison. He sounds more like a Tebow who can throw.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves here, but itís not hard to envision him leading the 49ers into the playoffs. If not this season, in the years to come.
His ink-covered arms will one day raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Imagine the impact that could have.
For one thing, Jerry Richardson would clutch his chest in horror. At the next Pro Bowl, you might spot Peyton by the pool with a Papa Johnís logo on his ankle.
I still think tattoo removal is going to be huge industry in the coming years. But for now, I might as well accept that Holland is probably doomed.
If you canít draw the tattoo line at NFL quarterback, you canít draw them anywhere.