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Column: A star in the family

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opinion Perham, 56573
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OK, I admit it. Watching the Super Bowl on Sunday was weird for me.

Because, first of all, I was watching football.

Me. The girl who never watches football. Never ever. At all. Not even the biggest game of the year.

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Nothing against it, I just never got into it. I'm the soft-hearted type who prefers the Puppy Bowl (and its kitty show half-time). All those cute little fluffballs playing around on that fake little "football field," with the refs calling penalties for adorable things like illegal napping and potty whoopsies... what's not to love?

But this year, I didn't watch the Puppy Bowl. Instead, I broke my 32-year-long tradition of not watching the Super Bowl.

Why? Because, secondly - and this is what felt really weird (and cool) for me - someone I know was in the game. Was a major part of it, even. Not just someone I think I know because I've read stories about him in the news, but someone I've met. Someone who's a member of my family.

It sounds awkward to throw it out there like this, but here goes: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is my cousin.

Wow, it's kind of a load off to go public with that, actually.

Not that it's a secret; it's just something I've never talked about outside of my own family.

And it's not that I'm not proud of Colin, I am. I dang sure am. How could I not be? He's living out his dream, and has found extraordinary success with it. In the game of life, he's scored a major touchdown.

It's just that he's the first person in my family to be considered a "celebrity," and I'm still figuring out how I want to handle it in my own day-to-day life.

I see him popping up all over in the national news, and my reaction is a mix of, "Hey! There's Colin!!" and "Weird. That's Colin."

I'll visit Yahoo! just like I've done every day for years and now I'll see articles about him right on the homepage. I scan the magazine rack at the grocery store and there he is, on the cover of Sports Illustrated. My Facebook page is plastered with posts from the family about his latest game, or the latest article or promo he's featured in.

Last week, he even showed up on BuzzFeed's list of Super Bowl "hotties." I'm really not sure how to feel about that one.

All season long, I'd overhear people talking about the latest game, and even mentioning Colin by name. I'd imagine dropping the ol', "Oh, him? Yeah, he's my cousin" line. Ever so nonchalantly, like it's no big thang.

But I don't do that. I'm afraid it'll come across as bragging. Or like I'm trying to glean some of the shine from his star.

I'm not the one who made it to the Super Bowl. And I'm in no way responsible for Colin's getting there, either.

If you suspect I'm making all this up, I don't blame you one bit.

I realize Colin and I look nothing alike. He tall, I'm short. He's all muscle, I'm all wiggle. He's black, I'm white. Really white. Some have described me as "pasty," even. You don't exactly look at him and look at me and think, "Yeah, I can see the resemblance."

And we don't appear to have much in common personality-wise, either. He's all fierceness and competitive determination - on the field, at least.

I'm, well... not that. Not that at all. To characterize myself (in a completely cliché-free way), I'm a wiggly hippie-nostalgic 'creative type' vegetarian who writes and sings.

But, believe it or not, we're family. His mom is my mom's sister.

Yet while I know Colin, I can't claim to really "know" Colin.

I remember him as a boy who liked to come over to our house to go fishing in our neighborhood pond. But his family moved from Wisconsin out to California when he was still young, and since then I've seen him only a few times - and those were far between.

What I do know of him - for those fans out there who may be wondering - is that he's a remarkable person. It would probably be easy for a guy with his talent to slip into the stereotypical role of the cocky, arrogant sports star, but he's just not like that.

The last time I saw him, I was a little surprised by how quiet he was, actually - shy, even. But watchful, with a kindness about him, and a good sense of humor.

That was at a family reunion a couple years ago. I didn't talk to him all that much, but we played a mean game of bean bag toss. Obviously, I won.

It was no contest, really.

Like taking candy from a baby.

No, really.

OK, not really. He kicked my butt.

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