Opinions of Cam Newton vary, but the NCAA’s treatment of him compared to Reggie Bush is reason for USC football fans to dislike the Panthers quarterback.
Super Bowl 50 is this Sunday and there are two story lines that are at the forefront of the half a century celebration of what many American’s consider to be the pinnacle of sports. Will this be Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s last game, and if so, will he go out on top? The other story line involves Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton and his celebrations.
Newton is doing what no one else at his position has done. He celebrates every first down. He dabs when he scores on an opponent. He “rips” his jersey open to reveal an imaginary Superman logo underneath. If he’s at home he’ll run around the stadium, and go so far as to strip the opposing team’s fan’s home made banners from the walls surrounding the field. Heck of a fan base down in Charlotte, huh?
He’s always smiling, always happy. Heck, he even hands little kids a football. Gee golly, what a guy!
Before this season, Cam Newton was a .500 quarterback who couldn’t complete a pass to save his life. A year ago, he led a losing team to a division title, in the hapless NFC South. More of a here you take it, than an actual accomplishment. Now he’s on top of the world, playing in his first Super Bowl, coming off blow out victories against Seattle and Arizona, two teams that many were predicting to be playing this Sunday.
So, why all the hate? Carolina is a Cinderella story after all. Denver has a hall of fame QB and the best defense in the NFL. The Panthers aren’t suppose to be here, and their soon to be anointed MVP quarterback has something to do with it.
Now some in the media, and even out of the media, want to make this great divide about race. If race is a problem, why is the number one selling jersey that of a black quarterback by the name of Russell Wilson? Sure, he handles himself a little differently, and yes he’s won a Super Bowl so that helps. However, I think it boils down to a couple of things, starting with what the quarterback position means.
If you’re a quarterback, your job is to manage and lead an offense. You’re the most important player on the team and all eyes are on you for better or worse. Football is after all, a team sport.
If you’re a quarterback, you’re the one player on the team that should be stoic and not taunt the opposing team. After all, every time you drop back, the opposing team’s defense is trying to break you in half. Why would you want to motivate them?
But Newton is a run first, pass second kind of guy, which is why his completion percentage is around 60% rather than 70%. If you’ve succeeded at running with the ball your whole life, why work on passing it?
Newton is 6-5, 245 pounds. It takes three defenders just to take him down. That’s ultimately why he taunts. He has a stellar offensive line, a stellar offensive design and a frame that is difficult to take down. If you want him to stop dancing, keep him out of the end zone he says. He knows how difficult it is to take him down, much in the same way a bully knows his victim can’t do anything about it.
Well, what about the celebration of Aaron Rodgers, he made a second career out of it? Yes, and two wrongs don’t make a right. Rodgers comes across as a “me” guy first, who celebrates in a smug manner. Not every great play deserves a celebration. When he held up his world title belt after winning it all, that was fine. He won the Super Bowl. If you’re gonna have a parade in your city, go nuts.
Newton may be the nicest guy ever, and his teammates may love and respect him, but reality is relative. He dances by himself after a touchdown and pulls apart a jersey that reads 1. I wonder who gave him that number? I also wonder if all these maneuvers are just a money ploy, in hopes of finding more endorsements. Like father, like son.
That brings me to point number two. Cam Newton was once upon a time a member of the Florida Gators. He stole a laptop and bolted for a junior college in Texas before the team could punish him. Since the charges were dropped, this could be chalked up as a bad decision and he learned his lesson.
Later it was found that his father Cecil Newton, Sr., a pastor in Atlanta, was pimping his son out to Mississippi State. One could chuckle at it, considering everybody should be paid to play at MSU. However, there’s this nifty little rule the NCAA keeps about not paying players and improper benefits. The argument here isn’t about whether or not players should be paid, it’s about whether there was a rule in place which was broken.
Newton was in the midst of leading Auburn to a national championship and winning the Heisman trophy when these allegations came to light. He was never suspended and Auburn was never hit with any sanctions.
Reggie Bush, like Newton, was a national champion and Heisman trophy winner. He went on to the NFL and played in and won a Super Bowl with NFC South rival New Orleans Saints. His professional career, just like Newton’s, has had its ups and downs. Though Bush has not announced his retirement, he’s nearing the end of his football days.
Bush’s alma mater is USC. USC had the hammer dropped on it, because Bush’s parents received a house from an agent. This agent had zero ties to USC. The Trojan football program is still trying to recover from the NCAA’s misdealings, which were more about bias than evidence.
The NCAA claimed they could find no evidence that Auburn had committed any violation, but it’s funny how Mississippi State, Florida and Auburn all share something besides Cam Newton in common. They’re all SEC schools, and for those of you playing at home, the SEC is the NCAA’s golden goose. Considering the NCAA’s previous bias against a powerhouse out west, it’s not hard to believe that they would botch an investigation if it meant hurting their own money flow. This is the same organization that went back on its sanctions of Penn State, the same school that harbored a child molesting assistant coach, so they’re obviously capable of anything.
It’s also funny how Cecil Newton Sr. got a brand new church to preach in. I wonder where the money for that came from.
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So when you watch Cam Newton on Sunday, and he makes even the most mundane of plays, he’ll at least smile. Look closely. Doesn’t that smile look like that of a used car salesman, like he’s got something to hide? Like someone who might have gotten away with something?
Meanwhile, Trojan fans can continue to lament over Pete Carroll and Carson Palmer’s losses to Newton this postseason. They can also continue to lament over the fact that Bush is barred from contact with his alma mater, had his Heisman stripped and USC had to remove a certain BCS championship trophy from Heritage Hall, while Auburn celebrates their star’s pro success.
Maybe the commercials will be good?