Chris Rock once lamented “I love rap, but I’m tired of defending it.” This was a part of his Never Scared tour in 2004, in which he mentioned that his age and the the content of rap had been so toxic that he couldn’t bear to defend the medium, nor should he try to.
Dare I say it, but I’ve reached that same point with Cam Newton. The Carolina Panthers quarterback has been in the news for various reasons this season: his bad goatee, his inconsistent play, and most notably his press conference decorum. For the most part I’ve been able to ride with him though all of it, primarily because most of that criticism came racially tinged.
If you’ve rooted for or covered Cam Newton before, race has been part and parcel of how he’s packaged. So when he said some latently sexist remarks to Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue, people justifiably lost their minds. However it also gave people who already had an axe to grind with Newton a brand new whetstone. Media members under the guise of being champions of diversity could further their agendas against Newton, and find a way to be a misogynist when the lights aren’t on.
That’s not to excuse Newton’s antics, because this season Newton has been indefensible in terms of those a ntics. The press conference kerfuffle none withstanding, the subsequent weeks have had him skipping press conferences and while doing so, blasting music in the locker room so loud that beat writers can’t interview other players. Whether people want to admit it or not, the situation between the media as a whole and Newton has become downright untenable.
The frustration comes with the immaturity and petulance that Newton has flashed often this season. In previous years, it could be dismissed as a young kid thrust into the NFL spotlight. Sometimes easily explained away with the all the potshots he took for some of his fashion choices, perhaps Cam misspoke and someone got overzealous to create a story.
None of those excuses are what happened on Wednesday, when Newton took a question from the Charlotte Observer‘s Joe Person. Person simply asked the Panthers QB what he thought about the chunk plays that the team had shown in the games against New England and Detroit. To Person’s credit, it’s a valid question, because the Panthers offense outside of those two games had yet to show up consistently. Newton promptly offered a ‘no comment’ before bailing on the the press conference.
To Newton’s credit, he’d already been at the presser for nearly 10 minutes, and more importantly, while Person’s question was valid, it was poorly worded. Depending on how one chooses to listen, that question could be seen as backhanded so perhaps that was how Newton took it. Regardless, the cold war between Newton and the media has reached another stage.
Quite frankly, it’s getting old.
It’s old on the side where Cam Newton and his fans believe he’s justified to do whatever he likes in the interest of previous injustices. And it’s old from the old guard who believe they’re owed a quote just because of the credential they carry. Professional courtesy on both sides needed to be extended a long time ago, and the fact that it hasn’t been exposes a pettiness that makes neither look good.
Edwin Starr wrote and sung that war was good for absolutely no one, and from the looks of it, no one is heeding his advice. The immaturity shown by Newton dulls the megawatt smile that he possesses and puts him in a battle he’ll never win. The vindictiveness of the media in this case only hardens the heart and mind of one of the marquee stars in the NFL and only alienates fans in the long run. And NFL fans are left tired by what’s already been an exhausting season.