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Column: Painful losses endure for Kaepernicks
The Colin Kaepernick the public knows is cool and collected, not the least bit nervous about the stage he will be on or the job he has to do. Despite the intense efforts of the media to tease out more sound bites during Super Bowl week, he remains a man of very few words.
“What you’re seeing is the way he’s always been. He’s not one to talk a lot about himself,” his dad said. “He doesn’t care who gets the headlines or the credit and I think you see that in your interviews. He’s just not full of himself.”
That was evident Thursday during Colin Kaepernick’s last media appearance before the big game. He dutifully answered questions without elaborating, never veering off task before it was finally over and he could return to practice.
“It’s not that I’m not comfortable with it,” he said. “To me, I’m here to play football. That’s what I want to do.”
That’s the quality former Nevada coach Chris Ault saw when his starting quarterback went down and he turned to the redshirt freshman. Kaepernick threw for five touchdowns. It’s what Jim Harbaugh saw when the backup electrified a national audience with a Monday Night Football rout of the Chicago Bears in November. Starter Alex Smith was on the bench the rest of the season.
It’s the same quality his parents have seen almost from the time he first began to talk in complete sentences.
“I’m a parent, but I would say if you sat in the stands and watched him as a kid you could see he had something,” Rick Kaepernick said. “He has that `it’ factor, whatever that `it’ is. In basketball, when it came time to take a 3-pointer to tie or win he wanted the ball. He was never the nervous Nellie, it was like `Give me the ball.’ You could see that at a young age.”
That the Kaepernicks are proud parents goes without saying. Every parent who has taken their child to Little League or Pop Warner entertains dreams of someday watching them play in a World Series or Super Bowl.
They’re just as proud, though, of how he honors his brothers who never made it. Colin quietly donated part of his first game check to Camp Taylor, a California charity his parents are involved in for children with heart defects, and last July he visited the camp with them.
He showed off his many tattoos while swimming with the kids, letting them climb on his back as he paddled about. He sat on the floor with them and listened as they told him about their different heart conditions, joined them in crafts and ate dinner with them.
When it was time to go, the kids hid his car keys, knowing that if you lose something at Camp Taylor you have to sing to get it back.
And so, the quarterback towered over them and was joined by his parents for a chorus of “This Little Light of Mine,” a song he learned in Sunday school.
“He just loves kids, and he ended up spending six or seven hours there,” his father said, “It’s such a great thing for kids and we want that to be successful. We know how hard it is for parents. So we’re pleased he is doing that.”
While their son has been the definition of coolness under pressure in games and in front of cameras and microphones this week, Rick Kaepernick admits to feelings of anxiety and excitement heading into Sunday. He and Teresa have been watching their son compete all his life but this, obviously, is on a different level.
And while they savor this moment, they’ll also be thinking of two little guys who never got to live a full life.
By Tammy Bruce
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