Michael Vick Clarifies Remarks About Colin Kaepernick & His Hair (Video)

UPDATE: Hours after retired NFL quarterback Michael Vick made remarks regarding what peer Colin Kaepernick may need to do should he wish to work again in the NFL, he has clarified those comments. In a  tweet Tuesday morning, the onetime Atlanta Falcons star took attention away from his Speak For Yourself remarks, specifically in regards to Kap’s hair style. Vick now motions that in fact, hair has nothing to do with the former San Francisco 49ers player’s professional future. He added that Kap’ is “a great kid with a bright future”:

ORIGINAL JULY 18 REPORT: Last year, Colin Kaepernick became one of the biggest stories of the 2016 NFL season because of his conduct off the field, rather than on it. Kaepernick was not the subject of a murder case, domestic violence allegations, sex abuse charges, drug violations or any of the other scandals that have plagued the league over the years. Instead, Kaepernick became a lighting rod of controversy, when he exercised his first amendment rights to protest the violence being committed against Black Americans by the police, by taking a knee rather than standing during the singing of the national anthem at games.

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The move was deeply polarizing, as everyone from pundits and players to President Obama weighed in on Kaepernick’s behavior. In the midst of his protests, however, his jersey–that of a backup quarterback with limited playing time–became the best selling in the NFL. Kaepernick’s uniform became a symbol of pride and empowerment during one of the most racially-charged periods in the last 40 years.

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As iconic as Kaepernick’s uniform was, his hairstyle also became a powerful symbol of the movement he galvanized. Over the course of the year, he grew his hair into a bountiful afro. The move was likely a deliberate nod to other points in recent history when Blacks embraced their natural hairstyles and wore them with pride rather than cropping their hair closely or straightening it in order to conform with White American standards of beauty. Other turbulent times like the late 60s and early 70s fostered similar movements, and in the last few years, several cultural activists like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Donald Glover and others have grown out their hair.

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The late 90s and early 2000s spawned similar hairstyles, as athletes like Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant donned corn rows and afros. One such athlete was Michael Vick, who sported braids in his early years on the field. Heralded as one of the NFL’s most exciting superstars, Vick’s career was derailed, when he was convicted of felony dog fighting and served 18 months in prison.

Today, Vick was a guest on Fox Sports 1’s Speak For Yourself, and he had some surprising comments regarding what Kaepernick, who was cut by the San Francisco 49ers and has yet to sign with another team, needed to do to get back to the NFL. “First thing we’ve got to get Colin to do is cut his hair,” said Vick. “Listen, I’m not up here to try to be politically correct, but even if he puts cornrows in there, I don’t think he should represent himself in that way, in terms of just the hairstyle. Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You’re already dealing with a lot.” Vick continued. “The most important thing that he needs to do is just try to be presentable. All the social media stuff he’s going through, we get it. We understand it. It’s time for Colin to step up in a different way.”

Vick offered his advice to Kaepernick as one who also had also struggled to get back into the league, after his conviction. “I had an afro at times, even during the tough times. It was something that people would whisper in my ear: ‘This is the way you’re being perceived,’ but that wasn’t me as a person.” Vick did acknowledge that the paramount reason Kaepernick was not playing was because of his poor performance on the field over the last couple of years, but he asserted that Kaepernick’s image did play a factor. “It’s not about selling out. When you’re good, and you’re playing great, then you’re going to be wanted. People are going to want to sign you, going to want to see you play.”

Toward the end of the segment, Vick said that he, himself, had been given similar advice when he was playing, and he disregarded it. Seemingly regretful, he said “I didn’t listen until the end, until I was going through the turmoil and the hardships, and it was very difficult. And then, I started to see what was most important, and that was cleaning up, changing my image–not just for public perception but for the judge and everything that I was about to get involved in. It was a difficult process, and it was one that I didn’t like, but it was one that I had to accept.”

While Vick’s advice may be practical and rooted in experience, it begs the question, do Kaepernick’s protests equate to felonious crimes that lead to imprisonment? Should a person’s hairstyle, particularly an athlete’s, affect his or her ability to play for a team?