I know it’s a dated reference but I remember when former Carolina Panthers running back Rod Smart used to go by the moniker “He Hate Me.” It was a phrase he picked up from one of his teammates that basically stated that every one of his opponents hated him.
Smart really made a statement when he used this phrase on the back of his jersey during his playing time in the failed XFL football league. Others players in that league used variations of his phrase on the backs of their jerseys and one of his former teammates even named a horse they owned “She Hate Me” in reference to Smart.
It may be time for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to consider a jersey change himself after reports of all the criticism he has received on Twitter recently.
It seems that when things go well NFL quarterbacks receive an undue amount of credit but that also works in reverse. With the 49ers currently sporting a 1-2 record, Kaepernick has received much of the blame for that.
Kaepernick’s increased Twitter hate isn’t the story though, Kaepernick’s response to it is.
Kaepernick favorited a lot of the criticizing Tweets he has received which leads many people to believe that he is using the negative comments as a form of motivation. The problem with that though is that his numbers may not improve much regardless of how motivated he is to play better.
He simply doesn’t have the weapons he had last season when he helped advance the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
His top target from last season, Michael Crabtree, is out with an injury. Tight end Vernon Davis has been playing but he’s been hobbled with injuries of his own, and Kaepernick’s number two option at wide receiver, Kyle Williams, had only 14 receptions all of last year.
Anquan Boldin has been a nice replacement for Crabtree but with last season’s speedsters Randy Moss and Mario Manningham no longer on the team, it has been hard for the 49ers to get anything going offensively.
While San Francisco’s thin receiving corps has had little room to work, Kaepernick and running back Frank Gore have found even less room to work. Gore is averaging only 3.5 yards-per-carry this season, more than a yard less than his average from 2012.
Kaepernick had a fantastic Game 1 versus the Green Bay Packers but after two miserable outings versus both the Seattle Seahawks and the Indianapolis Colts, he has now thrown for more interceptions than he has touchdowns.
What makes Kaepernick’s slumping numbers look even worse is the fact that the guy he replaced last season, Alex Smith, has led the Kansas City Chiefs to a 3-0 record while not throwing a single interception.
But the average fan doesn’t care that Kaepernick is missing four of his top six targets from last season, or that one of the two that remains is slowed by injuries. They only care about wins and losses.
And who is the most visible person they can cast their blame towards? Colin Kaepernick of course.
And that’s a shame really when you consider all the factors working against him this season. This may not be a bad thing though.
All the adversity and hate Kaepernick is receiving now can only make him a better player if he is truly using the negative voices as motivation as many suspect he is.
And while the NFL doesn’t allow quotes on the back of their jerseys the way the XFL did, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kaepernick didn’t at least have a T-shirt with his new nickname “They Hate Me” on under his jersey.
Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.