Friday, February 5, 2016

Trying Hard Not To Hate

Much of Super Bowl week has been spent trying to convince America that they shouldn't hate Cam Newton.  The Carolina Panthers quarterback is poised to become the face of the NFL with an MVP regular season and probable Super Bowl MVP trophy coming his way.  Yet, Newton remains a polarizing figure.

A lot of people don't like Cam's on-field demeanor.  The excessive celebrations that started with his "Superman" move--looking like he was pulling open his shirt to reveal an "S" on his chest--and then added a few dance moves and then this year the addition of "dabbing"--sort of an old-school "bow to the crowd".  If Cam were to add another move or two for the Super Bowl, he's going to end up looking like John Cleese from the "Ministry of Silly Walks" skit on Monty Python's Flying Circus.

And then there's the taking of team selfies on the sideline before the game is even over, the yelling and jumping around in pre-game warmups, and the outrageous wardrobe selections for press conferences and team appearances that also grate on people.  Some of us can't help but recall the theft charges filed against Newton during his freshman year at Florida--which saw him steal a laptop computer from another student and then throw said computer out of the window when the cops showed up.  That led to his transfer to a junior college. 

Some fans still refer Newton as "Scam" after his return to Division One football was marred by his father's open bragging about how much schools were offering to pay him to have his son play for their team.  The inept NCAA investigated but couldn't find any concrete evidence that Cam got paid--and he led Auburn to a National Title and won a Heisman Trophy--both of which large sections of the country believe are forever tainted.

Talking heads and writers have spent countless hours this week trying to convince football fans none of that stuff mentioned before should matter--and that we should embrace Cam Newton as the game's next great star.  I've heard Cam's on-field celebrations compared to the "joy" with which Magic Johnson played basketball--and everyone loved Magic.  That the selfies and the dabbing are a generational thing and that we are just sticks in the mud if we can't learn to enjoy it.  And, of course, the race card has been played often as some wonder why Cam's dancing is an issue, but Peyton Manning's alleged use of Human Growth Hormone has practically been a non-issue this entire week.

There is one thing that I do like about Cam Newton--and it comes in his new commercial for Beats Audio.  He lists all of the perceived slights that motivate him to workout harder (wearing his Beats headphones) and then addresses the belief that he hurts people's feelings with his actions.  His response: "It's too bad they don't make band-aids for feelings".  I'm using that in every conversation about political correctness and "inclusive speech" from now on.

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