Super faith: 49er Kaepernick’s adoption started the gold rush
Michael Haverluck - Guest Columnist
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Despite losing the recent NFL championship battle at the Superdome, the QB with the golden arm is poised to win the war with the Bible as his strength and shield.
He only began starting at quarterback in mid-season, brought his team back several times from impossible deficits, and almost brought the San Francisco 49ers back from 22 points behind to steal Super Bowl XLVII from the Baltimore Ravens.
49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick might have fallen a field goal short of winning his first Super Bowl -- but even if he had kept San Francisco's unblemished 5-0 record in Super Bowl appearances alive to win their sixth, the all-around athlete would still have considered his number-one blessing being adopted.
"[Being adopted] was the biggest blessing of my entire life," Kaepernick told former Miami Dolphin star quarterback Dan Marino in a CBS pregame interview that included his adoptive parents.
Grateful that his birth mother decided to have him and give him up for adoption rather than go the route of an abortion, the two-time Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year from the University of Nevada-Reno was blessed to be lovingly and discerningly placed by his 19-year-old mother into the Christian home of Rick and Teresa Kaepernick when he was just five weeks old. At that time, the Kaepernicks already had two healthy children, but had suffered the tragic loss of two sons due to heart defects.
From an early age, the Kaepernicks knew their adopted son had a great drive. During the pregame interview, they proudly read a letter their son wrote to himself while still in junior high, stating that he would be a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers soon after he graduated from college.
Despite his hard work ethic, superb athletic ability and incessant drive for success, the young man who was nominated for all-state in baseball, basketball, and football during his senior year of high school credits his success to God and the love and support of his adoptive family.
Wearing his faith under his sleeves
Besides his undeniable talent, one of the first things football fans notice about Kaepernick is the tattoos running up and down his arms -- typical of a lineman, but not so much for a quarterback. What do they read?
"Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear though war break out against me, even then I will be confident," is inscribed on one arm, which recites Psalm 27:3 and explains his fearless determination to be victorious on the gridiron.
His other arm explains another dimension of his game. "You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me," is written across that arm, repeating Psalm 18:39 -- helping fans see the source of his power.
Yet despite Kaepernick's faith, unblemished character and hard work ethic, as well as graduating high school with a 4.0 GPA, his status as a role model has been questioned because of his tattoos, most recently by AOL FanHouse columnist David Whitley.
"I realize tattoos are ways to pay homage to your religion, children and motorcycle gang … [b]ut I can't shake the notion that a person's body is a temple, and you don't cover temples in graffiti," Whitley commented. "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 at a tattoo parlor."
He claimed that the star San Francisco 49er quarterback doesn't fit the mold.
"Then there are Michael Vick and Terrelle Pryor … [n]either exactly fit the CEO image, unless your CEO has done a stretch in Leavenworth or has gotten Ohio State on probation over free tattoos," Whitley continued. "That's what makes Kaepernick a threat to the stereotype. By all accounts, he's polite, hardworking, humble and has never been to prison. He sounds more like a Tebow who can throw .... His ink-covered arms will one day raise the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Imagine the impact that could have."
Not feeling Whitley gave their son a fair shake, Kaepernick's parents felt they had to stand up for his reputation.
"It annoyed me," Kaepernick's mother responded to Whitley's criticism of her son's tattoos. "You are categorizing this kid on something like tattoos? Really? Saying other guys are role models because they don't have them? Really? Some of these other guys don't have crystal clear reputations. That's how you're going to define this kid? It's pretty irritating, but it is what it is."
Man of faith
Even though the 25-year-old Kaepernick isn't the most loquacious professional athlete about his faith, he shows it in different and impacting ways.
"Colin's a fairly religious kid, but he's not in your face about it," his father, Rick Kaepernick, told the Huffington Post. "It's more about him and what he believes."
But the 6-foot-5, 230-pound quarterback is not shy to speak about his Christian faith.
"I don't think most people look at football players as what they're doing out here is trying to glorify the Lord," he shared while speaking at Summit Christian Church near Reno, Nevada. "I think a lot of people think of it as, 'Oh, it's a game, let's go win.' Ultimately, that's your goal, that's what you want to do, but you also want to glorify the Lord on your way to doing that."
He revealed to the congregation the dynamic relationship between his faith and his success as a quarterback in the National Football League.
"My faith is the basis from where my game comes from," Kaepernick explained. "I've been very blessed to have the talent to play the game that I do and be successful at it. I think God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me to get to where I'm at."
Unlike most pro quarterbacks these days, both his arm and his legs are key components to his success. In fact, he recently set the all-time NFL record for most yards rushing
in a game by a quarterback (181 yards against the Packers in the playoffs). But humility and surrendering his life to God are key components to his game -- and his life.
"When I step on the field, I always say a prayer, say I am thankful to be able to wake up that morning and go out there and try to glorify the Lord with what I do on the field," the versatile quarterback shared. "I think if you go out and try to do that, no matter what you do on the field, you can be happy about what you did."
Michael Haverluck is a freelance journalist based in the northwest United States.