We don't deserve Cam Newton. That's right, we. We as in Cat Scratch Reader. We as in the Panthers. We as in the collective fans of the NFL. He is a scion of everything we should want football to be on the field at any level: Ridiculous; entertaining; awe inspiring. Off the field, his biggest scandal since joining the league was that he wore capris to a press conference after losing a game. How dare he?
We, some crazy ass how, live in a world where we have to be tip-toe around this creaky old house at night while talking about him, lest we risk the wrath of either extreme of his unique spectrum. Cam Newton is not rosewater to be lightly sprinkled on our necks in hope that the boys in the yard notice while Dad's coffee hides the scent from him, sparing us yet another tirade about loud music, fast cars, and the demoralizing influence of advertisements targeting innocent little flowers like ourselves with such subtle introductions to evil as Chanel no. Ace Boogie. And yet.
He is ambitious, a leader. These are traits we want in a quarterback, but what do we do when he acknowledges that his coffee cup is overrunning every morning with the fresh smell of genes that are unbelievably better than ours? We call him arrogant. What do we do when he says he isn't the best right now but he wants to be? We say his heart isn't in the right place. We don't deserve Cam Newton.
Cam was no virgin to the media after his days of college stardom, but he never displayed a desire for their presence. He wouldn't shy away from them, but he has never really sought them out. Yet, by the very nature of his draft position, he could not avoid the impossibly wide and soppy cavern that is the center of the NFL's fertility. One man cannot hope to be much more than a toothpick thrusting into a soda bottle in their ‘relationship' with the NFL media. Not all prom dates are so lucky, but Cam has proved resilient in his ability to handle expectations from his franchise, his fans, and the media. He wasn't always graceful. He may have left a few splinters in their high-fructose-corn-syrup slathered plastic folds, but more than anything he shown an ability to learn, to adapt to a situation that nobody could be comfortable in. And yet.
Dear readers, you may not have noticed, but very recently Cam signed a contract extension to remain with the Carolina Panthers (who are a small market, lots of guts but no public glory kind of team based in Charlotte, NC) through 2020. He did this when he could have waited a couple of years and signed a bank breaking deal with the likes of the New York Jets or the Dallas Cowboys (whose stadiums have butt wipes studded with diamonds, or so I hear). He signed an extension with a backwater team now instead of letting some of his peers set the market just a little bit higher in a year or so. The NFL quarterback contract market truly is a weird ass rollercoaster and Cam Newton will be tall enough to ride it, no matter where you set the bar. Again, he signed now, at a rate that is reasonable given the current size and structure of other franchise quarterback contracts instead of waiting through just one more season, one more season that is poised to be his best yet, for ostensibly a lot more money. And now we call him so many different things. At best? Overpaid. At worst? Andy Dalton. Colin Kaepernick. We don't deserve Cam Newton.
These are the reasons the Carolinas and the NFL do not deserve Cam Newton. We know them well. But you may recall that I called out Cat Scratch Reader at the top of this piece. That's because we do not sally forth and defend him at every opportunity. We see glasshouses littering the landscape of the FaceBook, knowing we should be throwing stones regardless of whether those homes were tempered with racism, envy, or good old fashioned willful ignorance. And yet.
I understand that it can be exhausting to fight the infinite avalanche that our own Superman cannot tame. They are deep thinking men, these opponents of ours. They see a spider while taking a poop and address it like the rest of us with a quick toilet-papered envelope of death. Like us, they too send the spider's remains to a watery grave with the rest of their own waste. But instead of moving on with the rest of their day these deep thinking men sit, paralyzed on their porcelain thrones, imagining all the ways that creature could have survived to begin a most sinister game of Itsy Bitsy Spider as it climbs up their dangling water spouts. But how can we call ourselves fans if we are not willing sacrifice ourselves in the fight against such deep thinking stupid? Unless we do this or find a way to raise the one hundred odd million dollars to pay the man from our own pockets, we must acknowledge our own complicity in the tragedy that is our starting Quarterback. We must stand up and say: We don't deserve Cam Newton.