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Lowell Cohn: Only bias is against Colin Kaepernick's bad attitude

  • San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) throws to a receiver as he is pressured in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Colin Kaepernick, who will play for the first time today in Levi’s Stadium, thinks people are picking on him. I guess he means media people like me. He recently told Bleacher Report some people are prejudiced against him.

Here’s what he said about so-called unfair criticism directed his way: “Stereotypes, prejudice, whatever you want to call it. I think between the tattoos, the way I dress, the way I talk, people don’t think it should go together with a franchise quarterback or someone that’s leading the team or representing the organization. At the end of the day, you have to look at, ‘Are they knowledgeable? Are they doing their job?’ Not what their appearance is.”

Kaepernick’s speech is a serious speech and I take it seriously. You should, too. Are people, especially in the media, prejudiced against him because of how he looks and talks? Understand, “prejudiced” is a loaded word in our culture. I assume Kaepernick used the word with full knowledge of its impact.

I admit I once was put off by how he dresses — the hat backwards, the baggy jeans. I have written it’s not how a franchise quarterback presents himself. I was wrong to write that. It’s a generational misunderstanding. I realize that. People Kaepernick’s age have a different style than older players — they don’t show up in suit and tie after a game like Peyton Manning. How Kaepernick presents himself through his clothes is his business and does not reflect negatively on his character or what kind of person he is.

I get all that. It took me time to get it, but I get it. I also acknowledge that Jim Harbaugh dresses casually — hat backwards sometimes, khakis, 49ers cap and sweatshirt. He is no Tom Landry, always in a suit. He is a first-rate coach and his clothes mean nothing.

I never have written about Kaepernick’s tattoos, if memory serves me. I don’t think about his tattoos one way or another. Others have written about his tattoos.

I have serious problems with how Kaepernick talks. I want to be careful here. I have no problem with his accent or his dialect or his choice of words. They’re all fine by me. In fact, I don’t actually have a problem with how he talks. I have a problem with how he does NOT talk. This is not a prejudice. This is a criticism resulting from his behavior in the real world.

When it comes to talking to the media, he is an ungenerous soul. I know what you are thinking: “Why should I care how he talks to the media?”

You should care because he talks to you through the media. We are the conduit to you. After games, even after wins, he speaks in monosyllables. Although he is intelligent, you would think he is a moron. You would think he achieved language only yesterday. He speaks like this on purpose. It is a big “screw you” to the media, to you, to everybody.

I guess I have a prejudice against that kind of talking. I do not approve of Colin Kaepernick’s reprehensible manners. I do not think a franchise quarterback should behave boorishly. Better franchise quarterbacks than Kaepernick did not and do not behave boorishly: Manning, Joe Montana, Steve Young, John Elway.

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