Earlier this week, former Eagles player Michael Vick shared some advice for fellow football player Colin Kaepernick.
On Fox Sports 1's Speak For Yourself, Vick told viewers that he didn't listen to suggestions to change his own image until very late in his career, when he attempted a comeback after spending 18 months in prison for financing and running a dogfighting ring.
Kaepernick, who opted out of his contract with the 49ers, has yet to land with any NFL team, a fact that has been the topic of much chatter among fans and experts. An analysis by ESPN's website FiveThirtyEight concluded that Kaepernick should have earned a spot on someone's roster, though other analysts say Kaepernick's controversial decision to kneel in protest during the national anthem before games last season has negatively impacted his chances of being picked up by an NFL team.
Here's what Vick had to say about Kaepernick's appearance:
"Listen, I'm not up here to try to be politically correct. Even if he puts cornrows in there. I don't think he should represent himself in that way in terms of just the hairstyle," Vick said. "Just go clean-cut. You know, why not? You're already dealing with a lot of controversy surrounding this issue. The most important thing that he needs to do is just try to be presentable." [Read more on Vick's comments.]
The comment spread quickly across social media, with people weighing in to both criticize and defend Vick and Kaepernick.
Philly.com, Inquirer and Daily News lifestyle columnist Elizabeth Wellington weighed in quickly, writing that Vick's comments "scream of self-hate" and were "respectability politics gone horribly wrong":
It's extremely hurtful when black people — like Vick — fix their mouths to call Kaepernick's hair unpresentable. How does your hair grow out of your head, Michael? We do remember those cornrows. And what about those waves you probably still keep tight with a do-rag?
Kaepernick's hair is clean. It's powerful. It's shaped. And, most important, it's his to style as he sees fit. [Read more from Elizabeth Wellington.]
Solomon Jones, who writes regularly for Philly.com and the Daily News took this angle:
In a country founded on slavery, playing well and cutting one's hair will never be enough to earn acceptance for a black man. [Read more from Solomon Jones.]
In the comments section and on social media, Philly.com readers responded with passion, debating Vick's comments and the reasons for Kaepernick's unemployment. Here, a collection of their reactions: