Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and Cam Newton Walk Into a Bar

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“President Trump, President Obama, and Cam Newton walk into a bar, and it is controversial as fu$%!” Some people are just polarizing. Politics has the innate ability to divide us into little groups of immature children fighting over toys, but it takes a special personality to divide people just by their nature. It’s something that people like Rush Limbaugh and Rachel Maddow aspire to be, but some just have the ability built into their existence. Cam Newton is one of those people.

I’ve been defending Cam Newton since the beginning. I am open about it. I refer to myself as part of his secret service protection detail. The criticism of Cam has been so hyperbolic since he came into the league, it has caused some of us to develop this innate defense mechanism that activates over any criticism. Defense about his play is pretty justified. The requisite for him to prove his play as a quarterback, after doing it every turn, has been so plain ridiculous that fans, like myself, feel obligated to take up arms in defense of our quarterback. The hot takes mainly originate with the national media. Talking heads like Colin Cowherd, Terry Bradshaw, Boomer Esiason, or Skip Bayless see Cam Newton as low hanging fruit to bang home the narrative that he is really just a running quarterback with a cannon for an arm, but doesn’t have the real chops to be an elite pocket passer. We get it. It stirs the pot, gets clicks, views, and shares--ironically from people like me who are ready to go to the mattresses over anything. I mean really? He’s been a Heisman winner, National Champion, Rookie of the Year, multi-year Pro Bowler, NFL MVP, and shattered record after record and people still think he is just OK? The doubt remains the same. In his rookie year, it was that  Blaine Gabbert is better than Cam Newton and now it is that his play is limited to his ability as a runner. GTFOH! 

Cam’s career should be enough to quiet these guys, but they keep coming back whenever an opportunity arises. What’s more infuriating is this contingent of Panther fans who agree with them. These are the people who argued that Derek Anderson could have played managed the team just as well as Cam back in 2012-2014. Yes, they called into the radio shows relentlessly. Adding these wackos to the group of critics made me, as I have described before, “sharpen my Twitter sword because I’m going into battle.” The exaggerated criticism admittedly caused me to defend Cam at every turn--even when the criticism is fair and his defense isn't warranted. We see this with President Obama and Trump all the time. The opposition party is so entrenched in their opposition that they latch onto every possible moment to undermine and embarrass their foe even when it is trivial. Sadly, it becomes counter-productive. The opposition becomes so hypercritical that the defenders become hyper defensive. So much so, when there is valid criticism, people take up arms to defend the end or light the fire at the stake. This undoubtedly happens with Cam Newton. 

Cam’s comments today, it being “funny” that a female reporter would ask about routes, however, aren't trivial. It is wasn’t simply just misspeaking. The comments were sexists. They were a mistake. He was wrong and had a bad moment. His comments marginalized a good reporter because she was a woman. Whether he intended for this to happen doesn’t matter, they did. Jourdan Rodrigue described Newton’s comments as “billeting” to her and ”countless other women before” her “and beside [her] who work in similar jobs.” 

The situation was only worsened when Newton failed to acknowledge the power of his remarks as she followed up with him after the press conference. He only walked the comments back marginally, stating that he would have been better off saying "reporters" rather than "females." 

The fallout that has ensued has been colossal and polarizing. Cam has become the most sexist piece of garbage to some, while others have written his remarks off as “not that bad” and have discounted the response as an oversensitive reaction to the situation. As usual, Cam is either a sinner or a saint. 

I don’t think it is necessary to entrench oneself into a camp on this matter, and that is coming from a guy who generally falls in the “Cam is Carolina’s football messiah” camp. I’ve known this all along, Cam is great but fallible. He’s an amazing football player who hasn’t yet reached his full potential. He’s also a player who isn’t perfect. It turns out that the same goes for him off the field. He’s also had some remarkable moments off the field, from maturing each year as a person, becoming a social activist in his own right, and just doing some downright heartfelt, uncelebrated things like showing up to a kid’s birthday unannounced with an ice cream truck or making a surprise appearance at a playground flag football game. He’s also had some less-than-stellar moments off the field, from his legal troubles in college to pouting after the Super Bowl and in press conferences, and, most recently, with his remarks about the talented young reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue.

Cam, even though many of us hate to admit it, isn’t Superman. He’s a damn good football player and I believe a good person who, like all of us, makes mistakes. He made one here. If everyone one makes mistakes, what does make us great then? As I get older, I more and more think it is not always what we initially do, but how we respond to the moments when we have fallen short of our full potential. Cam may have made a mistake, but he now has an opportunity to grow as an individual, reach out to someone he hurt, and just maybe touch the hearts of those who have already decided whether he is a sinner or a saint. Just maybe, Trump, Obama, and Newton, in the end, can walk into a bar and everyone just has a beer. 

By Tony Dunn
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