WEST PALM BEACH, FL, January 6, 2012 – Tattoos and sports seem to go together. Big name players often display big name ink. The NBA has numerous examples, including Kobe Bryant, Chris Anderson and Monta Ellis. Professional soccer has Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham, while baseball often cites Jason Giambi. And the NFL usually talks about Jeremy Shockey and Devin Thomas.
Newest NFL news, however, centers on New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and their tattoo choices.
The New York Daily News brought public attention to Rex Ryan, on vacation in the Bahamas enjoying the playoffs with no pressure since his team was ousted from contention. Ryan has also been in the news because none of the Jets’ executives – including Ryan — have been available to the press, despite NFL requirements that all teams make an executive available to the press within a week of the end of the season.
Now, the issue with the often-outspoken Ryan is a new tattoo.
Ryan, who has a shamrock tattoo with the names of his wife Michelle and his children Payton and Seth, also has a prominent tribal-design tattoo on his leg.
A new photo by the New York Daily News shows that Ryan now also has another tattoo on his bicep. This drawing depicts a woman, who closely resembles Michelle Ryan, wearing only a Jets football jersey. The picture makes sense, considering Ryan is the coach of the Jets. Where it gets a bit complicated is that the number on the jersey is number 6, which is the number of Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. Even more complicated is the fact that the woman appears to be kneeling in a pose made famous by Tim Tebow (“Tebowing”), the back-up quarterback for the Jets who saw very little playing time this season and reportedly is now trading to Jacksonville. Some believe the woman is mocking Tebow, while others believe she is paying homage.
With Ryan, it’s always hard to know the motivation. But it is also likely he will let us all know, sooner or later, the whole story.
The other current tattoo NFL story is San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick breaks the usual clean-cut NFL quarterback mold (think Tom Brady) by choosing full back tattoos that also cover his arms and chest.
In early December, ALO FanHouse columnist David Whitley wrote a scathing column about Kaepernick’s tattoos, comparing him to an inmate and suggesting they disqualified him from leading an NFL team. Although he acknowledged that Kaepernick is “polite, hard working, humble” the tone of the article was insulting and judgmental.
Luckily, Kaepernick’s amazing parents, who often accompanied him to long-sessions in tattoo shops, vocally and actively defended their wonderful son. While they did not encourage him to get tattoos, they allowed their youngest son, who they adopted as a baby, to make his own decisions. Kaepernick’s first tattoos were bible versus, which he had inscribed on his biceps.
Rick and Teresa Kaepernick noted Colin was a 4.0 high school student who donates his time to Camp Taylor, a camp for children with heart defects.
Teresa said, “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.”
Kaepernick himself does not worry about negative media coverage. On the tattoos, he told AP, “I get tattoos because I like them, not for anybody else.” He also noted, “I’m here to play football. I don’t pay attention to what the media’s writing or what people are saying. I’m here to play and go out and perform.”
Next week, Kaepernick has a chance to silence critics when he plays the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round, at home. If he wins, no one will be talking about his tattoos.
For Rex Ryan, the tattoo controversy will likely die down in a few days. Luckily for the media, where Ryan goes, another is soon to follow.
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