Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Super Bowl, a Quarterback and One Hell of a Story

In this house, we take our sports seriously.  Tomorrow, one of the most sacred of all days in the sporting calendar, the Super Bowl.

I'm rooting for the 49ers for a few reasons, not the least of which is that I tend to not want Ray Lewis to go out in a blaze of glory.  I just have a hard time cheering for the guy.  Besides, I'm not sure I want to know what he'd do if he won again...last time didn't end so well.

(For those who don't know, Lewis and his buddies killed two men after the 2001 Super Bowl.  They were all charged with first degree murder, but Lewis rolled and pled to obstruction charges in exchange for testifying against his friends.  The friends were acquitted.  Lewis was fined by the league as his punishment, and later paid out settlements when civil cases were filed against him by the families of the victims.  He is retiring after this season, to much fanfare about his career, though there are some of us who haven't forgotten what he did.)

I'll be the first to admit that I have never been a fan of the 49ers before.  Up until the past few weeks, they were just another team in the NFL that occasionally played one of the teams I was rooting for.

My loyalty usually resides with the Chargers and the Broncos.

Or Ryan Leaf.  Seriously. 
Since neither of those teams made it, I've had to choose.

This helped.

Colin Kaepernick.

The back-up quarterback who only got a shot because Alex Smith, the starter was hurt.  The kid who was nominated to all-state in baseball, basketball and football.  The kid who was drafted to pitch for the Cubs because he was thought to be a far better baseball player than football player.  The kid they all said had accuracy issues, but a strong arm.  The kid who got only one scholarship offer to play football in college.

The first game he started in college for Nevada, he almost beat Boise State.  Three years later, he'd snap their 28 game winning streak in his last game at home as a senior.  His stats are ridiculous, yet he never got the nationwide attention that players from other schools got.

He went into the draft after graduation, and the Niners traded up to grab him.  For a year and  a half, he played second fiddle to Alex Smith, being used only occasionally. This season, Smith suffered a concussion and had to sit out.  A few weeks later, he was cleared to play, but Kaepernick had taken the position.  Harbaugh named him starter.

All of a sudden, he was starting games for a team that had a shot to make it all the way to the big dance, and he stepped up to the plate.  My jaw hit to floor when I saw how fast he can throw, not realizing he was a pitcher and his fastball was in the 95mph range.  He can run too, and his yards on the ground made the difference in a few games toward the end of the season.

That all makes him interesting to me as a football fan, but what makes him interesting as a person is who he is.

He's mild mannered, with a quiet and unimposing ego.  He doesn't say much.  He answers interview questions with one or two word answers.

He certainly isn't hard on the eyes.

It's said that when he was a child, he predicted he would be 6'4" and play for either the 49ers or Packers someday.

He scored a 37 on the Wonderlic test, a test given to NFL players and people in many other professions to gauge their cognitive abilities.  Systems analysts average a 32.  Football quarterbacks average 24.  He's basically a genius.

Still, that's not what is making news this week.

Kaepernick is biracial, and was adopted by a white family.  Born to a teenage mother with no job, and a father who walked away, he was given up for adoption at 5 weeks old to the Kaepernicks.  They had two living children and had lost two children to heart defects.  In recent weeks, this has become a news story all it's own.

Rick Reilly, an ESPN sports analyst and father of an adopted child himself, has publicly written about his belief that Kaepernick should try to contact his birth parents.

Kaepernick's mother, Teresa, sent pictures and updates to his birth mother for many years, until she asked her to stop.  It became too painful.  His birth mother sent his adoptive parents one last letter for him to read at 18.  After reading it, Colin had no interest in seeking out his birth parents.  Still doesn't.

According to his parents, he was never curious.  His family was just his family.  His siblings were his siblings, his parents were his parents.  It didn't matter to him.

When pressed on the issue, he has maintained that his adoptive parents are his parents, period.  It's not an issue of curiosity, or of not wanting to hurt his adoptive parents, of resentment or any of that, he says.  He's just not interested.

Why isn't that the end of the conversation?

Adopted children have the right in some cases to seek their birth families, this is true.  Shouldn't they also have the absolute right not to?  Shouldn't we respect that, not question their motives, and shouldn't we leave them alone?

This is none of Reilly's business, nor is it anyone's.  It's not appropriate for anyone to tell him what he should or should not be doing in this regard, certainly not now just because he entered the spotlight.  Why should he be subject to questioning about his personal choice simply because people know who he is now?

Obviously, I am arguing that he shouldn't be.

Who his birth parents are, who his adoptive parents are, whether he wants to find them or not, has nothing to do with football.

Get back to sports analysis, Reilly.

There's a game tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. I agree - I don't see why that was ever brought up?! It's HIS decision and who would it benefit? You definitely would think it'd be end of discussion. I feel bad for his adoptive parents - the media telling him to find his "real" parents. Ridiculous!

    Loved this post! We're a BIG football family, too. I'm a Texans fan, my husband a Panthers(ew!). So, who wins tomorrow isn't a HUGE deal for me in any way, but I'm definitely pumped for it!


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