These days, it isn't strange to hear his name echo from the TV. Or jump off the front page of your morning paper. Or to see him trending on your various Internet surf-and-stop sites.
Colin Kaepernick is everywhere, and there he was again Friday morning the very first face to welcome me into a new day.
Much of the attention has been deserved. Kap has been nothing short of spectacular in a seat once occupied by living legends Joe Montana and Steve Young.
The 49ers (8-2-1) are 2-0 since Kap a second-year quarterback from Turlock with a rocket right arm supplanted Alex Smith, who was knocked down the depth chart by a concussion.
But regrettably, Friday morning's debates took another tone and direction.
The talking heads on ESPN's "First Take" weren't dissecting Kap's game, nor did Jim Rome care much about filling his airwaves with the 49ers' quarterback controversy.
In question: Kap's tattoos, of all things, a seemingly free-flowing collection of mostly biblical verses that canvas his upper body and back.
The firestorm was started by a Sporting News columnist, David Whitely, whose column seemingly condemned the 25-year-old for his body art.
"San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick is going to be a big-time NFL quarterback. That must make the guys in San Quentin happy," Whitley wrote in a column published Wednesday.
"Approximately 98.7 percent of the inmates at California's state prison have tattoos. I don't know that as fact, but I've watched enough 'Lockup' to know it's close to accurate.
"I'm also pretty sure less than 1.3 percent of NFL quarterbacks have tattoos. There's a reason for that.
"NFL quarterback is the ultimate position of influence and responsibility. He is the chief executive officer of a high-profile organization, and you don't want your CEO to look like he just got paroled."
The Kaepernick family was quick to retort, assuring a growing fan base that their adopted son was neither a street thug nor the equivalent of a tenant at San Quentin.
Let the record show that Kaepernick is 1) a former 4.0 student at Pitman High; 2) a religious man with a faith he literally wears on his sleeve; 3) civic-minded (he once wrote a passionate, sincere paper on substance abuse); and 4) just an all-around good dude.
"This guy has probably never talked to Colin," his father, Rick, told USA Today. "Instead of saying that Colin does all these great things and donates his time to children, this guy is going to make him out like a gangster. Really?"
Whitley's judgment was unfortunate, and his take on skin ink antiquated. The tattoo is a form of self-expression. Just as people wore their hair long in the 1970s in a show of freedom and individuality, the tattoo has become the mark of this generation
of which Kap is the newest star.
There is, to some degree, reason and rhyme for the style, size and location of virtually every tattoo.
I should know I've got three, and I disclose that without remorse.
My right shoulder is emblazoned with my last name, a tribute to my family's heritage and my father. The letters are engulfed in flames, a reminder to me to always live my life with passion and fire.
Does that make me a deadbeat dad or gang-banger?
A crest dresses my left shoulder, a lasting impression from years gone by. I had it drawn during my junior year in college, and its intricacies and symbolism define many of the friendships forged during that time. Yes, there is a skull and crossbones does that mean I live above the law? Does that mean I lurk in the shadows?
The last tattoo stretches out between my shoulder blades. It's of a phoenix rising from the ash. It, too, features flames, as well as a thick layer of tribal black.
It's bold with sharp edges that give it a look that's menacing, but does that mean I am?
My life has been spotted with adversity and challenges, some that have knocked me to my knees. Just as a Monet might inspire a fine-arts connoisseur, the phoenix symbolizes the resiliency and resolve I'll need when the world knocks me down.
In a very real sense, the tattoos serve as snapshots into my life my past, present and future.
And, I imagine, Kap would say the same.
Whitley doesn't get that, and the fact that he's taken such a hard-line stance against a high-profile athlete has ruffled feathers far and wide. He's been accused of racism on the message board that accompanies his column, another example of how one hasty reaction begets another.
"It didn't occur to me that admitting I'm not a fan of body art would be admitting I don't like African-Americans," Whitley told The Sherman Report, an online site focused on sports media. "I'm pretty sure the middle-aged women at the gym with barbed-wire tats that I referenced are white. So is (former NFL tight end) Jeremy Shockey. If they were old enough to read, my two adopted African-American daughters would certainly be disappointed to find out I'm a racist."
But here's the rub.
In time, Whitley's daughters and really, all of our little babies will learn to read, and they'll take that knowledge and form opinions of their own.
Along the way, they'll learn about history's great mistakes judgments cast upon others for their sex and sexual orientation, religious beliefs and the color of their skin.
And perhaps they'll pick up Whitley's column on Kaepernick and learn this: We don't judge others by the color of their skin OR the colors they put in their skin.
James Burns is the regional sports content editor of The Modesto Bee and Merced Sun-Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2324.