Tatted up: more ink for discussion

Updated: June 25, 2013

We, at Blackathlete.com, felt it was important to re-print this article after the recent controversy surrounding Sporting New’s writer David Whitley’s article entitled Colin Kaepernick ushers in an inked-up NFL quarterbacking era, which  he criticized the 49ers QB for having tattoos.

“NFL quarterback is the ultimate position of influence and responsibility. He is the CEO of a high-profile organization, and you don’t want your CEO to look like he just got paroled.”

NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — At one time, getting a tattoo was a sign that you were a Rebel, a Bad Boy, or an Outlaw.

As a result, this rare form of body art that was once only seen on the arms or biceps of Marines, bikers, or Rock-n-Roll stars, are now seen everywhere.

And on everybody. They definitely are all over the body of Jesse James’ mistress Michelle “Bombshell” McGee.

They are also above the “booty” of all of those exotic dancers (or should I say strippers) at Magic City in Atlanta. (Don’t ask me, how I know.)


Every body loves tattoos. If not, too bad…

They are on the arm of Kobe Bryant. Lamar Odom’s hands.Gilbert Arenas’ fingers.

The chest of Lebron James. The stomach of  Steven Jackson. The legs of Dallas’ Shawn Marion. They are across the back of Orlando’s Jameer Nelson. And surprisingly, also across the back of the Oklahoma Thunders’ Kevin Durant in the form of a Black Angel.

They are even on the neck of the ex-Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin (Haven’t you seen those stupid big red lips?)

And on the head of Stephen Marbury. That’s correct, I said his head.

And even on the face of boxer Mike Tyson.

Yes, Mike Tyson has a tattoo on his face, which was highlighted in the comic film The Hangover 3.

Recently, southern rapper Gucci Mane, who may have been influenced by Iron Mike placed an ice cream cone on his face as well.

But with so many people as well as athletes decorating their bodies with this permanent ink, why has tattooing become so mainstream?

Is it a result of Gang-Culture? The Prison Industrial Complex? Hip-Hop music?

Or TV programs like TLC’s “LA Ink”?

This is a very tough question to answer.

But has this tattooing phenomenon gone too far? And should NBA Commissioner David Stern be concern with all of these tatted up athletes?

Because according to some reports, over 70% of the NBA has tattoos. Most noticeable are Carmelo Anthony (Knicks), Allen Iverson (former 76ers),  J.R.Smith (Knicks), Delonte West (former Maverick), Matt Barnes (Clippers),  and Christopher “Birdman” Andersen (Miami Heat).

The problem of tattoos has become such a concern for owners, that last year Charlotte Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson during an interview with QB Cam Newton requested that he not place any of them on his body, despite the fact that, his teammate at that time, Jeremy Shockey had a body full of them.

Plus, we can’t forget the Terrelle Pryor tattoo parlor-scandal that is still haunting Ohio State University and preventing them from playing for the BCS Championship this season against Norte Dame.

Comedically, I blame Dennis Rodman, the original tattoo bandit for all of this mess adorning all of these athletes. But shockingly, the popularity of tattoos goes far beyond a few million dollar athletes and Dennis Rodman.

Because tattooing of one’s body has always been a cultural norm amongst “the original” people since the beginning of time. Whether in Africa, India, Thailand, Indonesia, South and Central America, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand or the Pacific Islands.

You see evidence of this on the arm of potential 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Norte Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o as well as on the arm of wrestler/actor Dwayne Johnson aka Da Rock.

Tattooing, in fact, was created by the ancient Egyptians or Kemetians, who spread the practice of throughout the world which later influenced the Chinese and Japanese master tattoo artists.

Ironically, however, it was only until Native American tribes like the  Cree and the Iroquois as well as  the Mayans in Mexico, came in contact with Spanish conquistadors and European missionaries that we started to consider this ancient and sacred body art, evil or works of “Satan.”

The arrival of the Christian church, in fact demonize these permanent marks of distinction that communicated status, military memory, lines of descent and tribal affiliation by utilizing the King James Version of the Bible and a scripture from the book of Leviticus (19:28) which reads: ‘ye shall not make any cutting on the flesh for the dead nor print any marks upon you.’


There is nothing new under the sun. Here is an ancient facial tattoo by a memeber of the Motu tribe of Papua New Guinea. Matter of fact, tattooing has been a tribal custom of the coastal peoples of Papua New Guinea for ages.

This  Christian and Jewish disapproval and logic has made getting tattoos a sin in most parts of the African-American community especially amongst churchgoers as well as from those who consider us Israelites despite their historical significance.

There is another segment of the population,however, who simply think that this permanent ink is unprofessional and destroys a person’s chances to move-up the corporation ladder in the business world.

For, in their opinion, perception is reality.

And despite how discrimatory that may seem, that’s the reality of the world.

But, sometimes, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

So the next time, you see a young high school kid in the mall, a NBA basketball player, a rapper, a NFL quarterback or just an “ordinary” person with a tattoo, don’t roll your eyes in disgust. Just remember, they are only practicing an ancient art form started by our ancestors that has lasted a lifetime.

But, I’m sorry, because I am still not getting one on my arm.


One Comment

  1. Mr.Nate

    August 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Leviticus 19:28 says it all, but don’t, think 95 percent of athletes to be Bible students. As an health worker, a patient fort warmed me he had been in prison 10 yrs. and was covered with ink, glad for the warming, believe me he was no need to say anymore .

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