One of the smarter moves I made last year was calling up DirectTV and asking for a discount on the NFL Sunday Ticket (and I ended up getting it for free). Last year was the first year I actively avoided Niners games. It made zero sense to pay $300 to watch the 49ers stack up 5 wins against 11 losses. That would have been an expenditure even my extremely tolerant wife would have given the side eye too.
I can’t say what any other Niner fans did to escape watching a deadly dull football team stumble through such a rotten season even the Cleveland Browns put a foot all up in that ass, but my refuge was to follow the Carolina Panthers and their charismatic QB, Cam Newton, the likely NFL Most Valuable Player.
The Panthers went 15-1 in the regular season and crushed the Seahawks and Cardinals on their way to the NFL Championship and punched their ticket to Super Bowl 50 where they face the Denver Broncos, hoping to win what appears to be a last run for a ring for 39-year-old Payton Manning. The Broncos feature a kick-ass defense and an aging, creaky QB who looked frail and fragile at times this season, but rebounded somewhat in the playoffs.
It should be an epic match-up between the old gunslinger trying for one last shot at glory and the new fast draw who is cocky and on top of his game. As dreary and miserable as slogging through the 49ers’ Season in Hell was, the tonic was watching the Panthers’ wide-open offense and take no prisoners “D” plow through the NFL, and it was enjoyable to watch Newton play with a smile on his face and making plays with his legs as well as his arm.
Newton had the sort of season where it wasn’t only fun to watch him, he was having fun doing it. The trouble is if you have too much fun in the No Fun League you’re going to take some from the fans (not Carolina fans mind you).
Here’s a sampling of the dogpile from Pro Football Talk:
Newton’s style is obnoxious, juvenile and bush league that’s why people don’t like him. Not because he’s black. Russell Wilson is black and NFL fans respect his style because it is professional and shows humility.
· Cameron “the thief” Newton celebrates a first down when he is losing by 24 points. The guy is the definition of ME ME ME.
· Newton has always been about trying to get as much attention as he can get. It doesn’t matter to me whether or not it can be backed up. I just can’t find it possible to actually like him.
· I don’t think any fan has a problem with celebrating. But Newton celebrates every TD like he just won his 15th straight super bowl, cured cancer, and created an unlimited source clean, free energy for the planet.
· Once Cam Newton starts acting like a Professional he will be elite like Peyton.
I always enjoy when someone says “it’s not because he’s Black” and then immediately follows up with an example of a Black person they find acceptable. It’s even more hilarious to say when Newton starts acting professional like Peyton Manning that will make him elite.
Does that mean Newton has to start shilling lousy pizza for a right-wing millionaire and be investigated for using human growth hormone?
Football is both a kid’s game and a billion dollar business. Cam loves the kids and the kids love Cam, especially when after the Panthers score, Newton hands a ball to a kid who is usually so excited they’re probably going to sleep with that ball for the next five years.
No kid who gets a football from Newton thinks he’s a selfish showboat who only cares about himself. Newton pisses off other players and purists, but he’s delighting the Panthers fans and developing a national following for the team. That’s good for the business of the NFL which is far from being the most fan-friendly sport.
Cam Newton does not take games off because he’s getting drunk and lying to his employers or fighting in strip clubs or depositing babies across the NFL If the worst thing anyone can say about Newton is they don’t like how he celebrates a touchdown, they should be mad at the other team’s defense for not stopping him.
I don’t know if Newton reads James Baldwin, but he explained it a long time ago when he said, “The power of the white world is threatened whenever a black man refuses to accept the white world’s definitions.” All those small-minded types clutching their pearls and grumbling how Newton doesn’t act like that nice Russell Wilson or that elite Payton Manning are missing the point. Cam Newton chooses to define himself and that threatens the White world that insists only they can do that.
They will never forgive Newton for that so he might as well keep on dancing and dabbing and having a good time all the way to a Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.
If Cam Newton scowled and frowned his critics would say he needs to smile more. He can’t win with them and shouldn’t bother to try.