Every time Luck struggles, scores of Panthers fans revel in jubilation. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Louis, myself, and a few of our friends would waste Summer afternoons where we'd been banished from the house, arguing on his stoop over what was better– his Sega Genesis, or my Super Nintendo. I would refer to Super Mario World, A Link to the Past, and F-Zero; while he would flail back with the only argument he could muster "My version of Mortal Kombat has blood!". History has shown I was on the better side of this argument, but in a pre-pubescent world it was hard to argue against a near-perfect version of MK.
This is the embodiment of an inferiority complex, something we all possess. It's an often irrational lack of logic that causes us to lash out against 'the other'; anything we don't own, in favor of talking up our own beliefs/items to convince ourselves (as much as anyone else) that they are superior.
Last season the justification was obvious. The Panthers swam upstream against a rapid tide telling the world that taking Cam Newton with the 1st overall pick was an inordinate risk. When the season came around, and Newton showed he was the QB Carolina believed in there was plenty of time to thump chests, beat drums, and scream to the world about the genius it took to make such a bold move. With rookie of the year honors on the table it was natural to denigrate Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Andy Dalton, and any other fellow rookie QB in order to bolster Newton's reputation. Ultimately it worked, the world agreed, and Newton handily won OROY honors following his record breaking season.
It has been over sixth months since the end of the 2011 season, and while we're all looking forward to the 2012 campaign, there's still a huge segement of the fanbase who continue the chest thumping, and screaming; now directed at Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, but why?
More after the jump
In a meaningless preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Andrew Luck ran one yard for a TD, near instantaneously Twitter exploded:
"Cam Newton would have done that easily"
"If that was Cam they wouldn't need to review it"
Earlier in the game Luck stared down Reggie Wayne and made an abysmal rookie mistake, throwing an easy pick six.
"Ha! Yeah, Luck looks real good"
"Cam would have chased him down and made the tackle"
Perhaps there will always be ire directed at Andrew Luck from some. After all, he's the man who turned down the Panthers. The organization were fully prepared to make him the #1 overall pick in 2011, and yet he chose a different path, one that was tantamount to spurning Carolina in favor of staying in college and taking a huge risk.
Rational or not, it's likely fans will always stack Cam Newton against Andrew Luck; it's our inferiority complex. Call it 'a bird in the hand', but ultimately it's born of fear that maybe we didn't end up with the best possible QB. Alright, I understand that; both Luck and Newton were essentially attainable options, but why then the snarkiness directed at RGIII?
Following his sack fumble on an attempted scramble:
"Doesn't run as good as Newton"
"That's why RGIII will never be as good as Cam"
Why is it that we have such a large segment of Panthers fans who want to attack Robert Griffin III? He wasn't attainable, he wasn't in the 2011 draft, he never had a chance to be in the Panthers uniform. What is the intent of slamming his ability as a QB, and still trying to tell the world that Cam Newton is better?
The only rational answer is fear.
Perhaps near 20-years of decent-mediocre QB play has conditioned fans to believe the worst is coming. Maybe we saw enough years of 'good Jake, bad Jake' to assume that sooner or later a quarterback will fail. There's a reservation directed towards Cam Newton that we don't see at other positions. We're satiated when Jonathan Stewart is mentioned in the same breath as Ray Rice and Matt Forte, we're okay when Steve Smith is referred to as 'one of the best', yet when Cam is held in the same regard as Luck and Griffin III the dogs are out.
My suggestion: Just let go. Andrew Luck returning to school was the best thing that could happen, because it forced the front office to think more creatively. Sure, maybe when this whole situation plays out we won't have the most 'conventional' QB, or even the most accurate– but unconventional has kind of always been the Panthers niche; how many other teams have a sub-6ft #1 receiver, or two elite running backs? We tend to equate 'different' with lacking, and that's a huge mistake.
More power to Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. As quarterbacks I wish them all the luck in the world, and if they both turn out as good as advertised then we as fans win, because excellent QB play leads to great football for all of us. In the same vein, I wish all the luck in the world to their respective teams– up until the point where the face the Panthers. Those two things: wishing the QBs and teams success has no bearing on Cam Newton's performance, and no manner of slandering or talking down the 2012 rookies will change that.