San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick appeared Friday at a prayer gathering in his hometown of Turlock and spoke publicly for the first time about apparently baseless media reports that he and two other players were under investigation in connection with a possible sexual assault.
According to the Modesto Bee, Kaepernick told a sellout crowd at the 21st Annual Turlock Mayor's Prayer Breakfast: “It’s been put out that I did something wrong. Even though it’s a bad circumstance, a bad situation, I feel like ultimately I’ve been blessed because it’s changed my way of thinking. It’s made me stronger. It’s made me look at things differently.”
Kaepernick expressed gratitude for the community support he's received, evidenced by the 900 people who turned out for his prayer breakfast appearance.
TMZ.com reported April 10 that Miami police were investigating Kaepernick, 49ers receiver Quinton Patton and Seattle Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette after an encounter with an unidentified woman in Lockette's apartment. The woman told police she'd had drinks with the players, who told her they wanted her to smoke pot, then apparently fell unconscious after having gotten undressed. She told police she woke up in a hospital with no memory of how she arrived there.
Subsequently, it's been reported that Lockette called police to report the woman was lying naked on a bed and refusing to leave the apartment. Kaepernick was not at the apartment when police responded. A "crisis intervention team" assessed the woman, and Fire Department personnel transported her to the hospital. No charges have been filed.
The day after the original TMZ story, which other media outlets initially echoed, Kaepernick denounced the report via Twitter:
(1/3) The charges made in the TMZ story and other stories I’ve seen are completely wrong. They make things up about me that never happened.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) April 11, 2014
The Rev. Ron Youngdale, the Lutheran pastor at the church Kaepernick's family attends, did a Q&A session with the quarterback and asked him how he integrates his Christian faith into his workplace (see video above).
Kaepernick talked about Bible study and prayer sessions with the team, and got a big laugh when he said, "It's amazing to me to see how spiritual a locker room can become before a game."
"A lot of 'amens'?" Youngdale asked to more laughter.
"What you see on the field is a lot of big men who are trying to hurt each other and take each other out," Kaepernick said. "You see a lot of that aggression and passion come out, but if you walk in that locker room before the game, you're going to see a lot of those same men on their knees thanking the Lord and asking for protection. And I think that's something that's truly amazing to see."