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49ers Kaepernick a picture of tattoos and touchdowns

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick celebrates after defeating the Atlanta Falcons to win the NFL NFC Championship football gam
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick celebrates after defeating the Atlanta Falcons to win the NFL NFC Championship football gam

(Reuters) - San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick doesn't need to look far to remind himself about the wild contrasts of life as an elite player in the NFL.

There is a permanent message inked on the inside of his powerful arms that signifies the two sides to the double life he leads.

It reads: "My gift is my curse."

"Being an NFL quarterback, there's a lot of advantages that come with it," he told reporters on Thursday as he prepares for next week's Super Bowl.

"There are a lot of doors that open when you're a quarterback, but at the same time you're under a lot of scrutiny. There are a lot of things you can't do as well."

As an NFL quarterback vying to win the greatest team prize in American sport, everything Kaepernick says or does is being heavily scrutinized.

Also in the media spotlight are Kaepernick's giant arms, that not only allow him to hurl the football like a missile, but make the 25-year-old one of the most distinguishable quarterbacks in the game.

Part of the reason is that his arms are both heavily tattooed, many featuring biblical verses.

Whenever he throws a touchdown pass or rushes for a score himself, he kisses his biceps - an act which has become known as 'Kaepernicking', - recognizing his faith while drawing even more attention to his inscriptions.

It has become common practice for athletes to get themselves inked but not everyone likes Kaepernick's body work, with the subject being debated by columnists, radio shock jocks and television talk back shows.

"I don't really care what people think about my tattoos," Kaepernick said. "I got them for me and to show people this is what I believe in."

All the talk about his tattoos has been a bonus for the artist responsible for all the designs. The Nevada man first met Kaepernick in 2007, long before the towering 6ft 4in (1.93 meter) quarterback had made it to the big time, and is suddenly being inundated with demands for tattoos and media requests.

"I met him through a friend in college," Kaepernick said. "I had him do one piece, I really liked it and I have been going to him ever since."

San Francisco face the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl at the Superdome in New Orleans on February 3.

(Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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