San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is making headlines for what he wears, and what he doesn't wear.
A few days after igniting a storm of Internet controversy because he posted a photo of himself with a hat bearing the logo of a rival NFL team, Kaepernick generated new attention this week when ESPN the Magazine released its "Body Issue" photo/interview spread, featuring several tastefully done photos of Kaepernick in the buff.
Also in the spread are 49ers receiver Vernon Davis and Bay Area beach volleyball star Kerri Walsh Jennings.
The initial controversy erupted when Kaepernick posted a photo of himself on Instagram celebrating the Fourth of July with a Miami Dolphins hat. Predictably, lots of people objected and questioned his loyalty to 49ers.
Kaepernick was at first defiant.
"This the hat y'all mad at?" he responded on Instagram. "I'm goin wear what I want regardless of what you think, all you need to worry about is the fact that I grind for my teammates and the 49ers! I plan on doin this until they won't let me in the building! #ridiculous #y'allmustbebored."
Later, he posted a photo of himself with a 49ers hat, although it remains to be seen whether it was a sincere apology or a coerced gesture of appeasement.
As for the ESPN spread, Kaepernick said in the accompanying interview he is driven to prove that last season's success -- he took over as starting quarterback in midseason and led the team to the Super Bowl, where the 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens, 34-31 -- was deserved.
"A lot of people say last year was a fluke," he told ESPN. "They say defenses are going to figure out how to stop our offense, and we can't do it again. That constantly drives me. Any time I'm told I can't do something or told someone is better than me, that motivates me to prove them wrong."