The 49ers organization woke up Thursday morning to more unsettling news — their superstar quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, was allegedly involved in a sexual assault incident in Miami.
This reported incident comes on the heels of 49ers’ cornerback Chris Culliver being arrested on suspicion of felony weapons possession and misdemeanor hit and run following an incident involving a bicyclist. Both of these investigations are not too far removed from last year’s widely publicized DUI and weapons charges for linebacker Aldon Smith.
The spike in negative publicity is uncommon for the 49ers — an organization that prides itself in its history of Hall-of-Famers. Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice (for the most part) were poster boys for good behavior. In contrast, the current 49ers team seems more like a casting call for a remake of “The Longest Yard.” This negative perception however is more of a byproduct of the times we live in and the rapid-fire information we get through Facebook, Twitter, etc. With so much competition to break the most controversial stories, situations like Kaepernick’s are becoming the norm and unfairly and prematurely casts judgment on players even without much evidentiary to support the allegations.
With regards to Kaepernick, however, the story initially broke through celebrity gossip website, TMZ.com. The report alleged that Miami police officers started investigating an incident at the Viceroy Hotel earlier this month. The details of the incident were later clarified, and the location of the suspicious incident was allegedly at Seattle Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette’s apartment. Kaepernick and 49ers wide receiver Quinton Patton were initially reported as persons being questioned regarding the incident.
The 49ers recently responded to the reports by saying that TMZ took the reports out of context and that there is no evidence a sexual assault occurred. While this story is far from over, the big question surrounding the mysterious incident is whether a sexual assault actually occurred or if Kaepernick is simply a victim of media sensationalism. As of the time this blog entry is written, there have been no charges or evidence linking Kaepernick to any type of assault. Unfortunately players and celebrities in our time are being placed under the microscope of social media.
The negative portrayal of Kaepernick as a sexual offender is not fair. Kaepernick must now rehabilitate his image as a result of all the negative media attention over rumors. Unless evidence is brought forth showing that Kaerpernick committed sexual assault, the media should reflect the notion that he should be portrayed as innocent until proven guilty. We all know how difficult it is to reform and rehabilitate one’s image — just ask Michael Vick. As a result of Vick’s run-in with the law, he lost virtually all of his endorsement deals. Kaepernick’s situation is even tougher since he is approaching free agency and is currently negotiating his first big-money contract. Hopefully the allegations are found to be false and Kaepernick’s stock does not take a hit.
If Kaepernick is cleared of these allegations, and the accusations are proven to be false, the league and the media owe Kaepernick a huge apology. I understand the media tries its best to report accurate news stories. I also don’t mean to sound hypocritical — as I too am guilty of wanting to break the most intriguing news stories first — but the media has to be very careful with the way they present their stories so they are not misleading. Any time the media reports on a athlete’s off-the-field activities, not only is their personal reputation is at risk, but so is their team’s.