Sunday, February 7, 2016

Why I'm rooting for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to win Super Bowl 50 -- and why you should, too!

I am basically a free agent football fan. I root for both the Giants and the Jets, but I am not a fan of them the way I am the Yankees. And, of course, I hate the New England Patriots with every fiber of my being!

Me dabbing before the Gridiron 4 Mile
 running race in honor of Cam Newton.
This year, I've been rooting for Cam Newton and the Carplina Panthers (Cam was my workplace fantasy football team's MVP, and got me into the playoffs. I ended up losing in the finals during the week of the Panthers' sole loss, but I wouldn't have made the postseason -- or gotten my second-place victuory -- if it weren't for Newton.)

Anyhow, I'm very excited about the Panthers this year for the Super Bowl -- about as excited as I can be on any game that doesn't involve the New York teams (or rooting against the Patriots!) I think Newton is the best, most dynamic, and most interesting player in the NFL right now. It's been fun to watch him grow up and become a leader. Who couldn't like him giving the game ball to little kids in the stands, too? I also like his positive attitude, his million-dollar-smile, and his dabbing and dancing, too. And I don't understand why some are against it.

What do we always hear about sports? That they're playing a kids' game. So what's wrong with acting with the joy of a kid? Why was it okay for Brett Favre to act like a kid out there, as broadcasters always said about him? Or for Aaron Rodgers to do the wrestling belt move after touchdowns (the move that became the Discount Double Check)? But Newton gets criticized for dancing? Really?

And yes, I do think the criticism is, at least partially, a racial thing (and a cultural thing.) As Tony Gonzalez said on CBS Sports, Peyton Manning is George Strait, and Cam Newton is Jay-Z. Some people prefer black athletes to be humble (or to at least act humble, like Derek Jeter) and to be quiet. They don't like the brashness of Newton. They also don't understand what the dabbing or the "hit dem folks" dance moves are all about. Me, I love it!

Incidentally, Newton has gotten way more grief for showing joy at a game than Peyton Manning has for being named in a PED scandal. (Even the Washington Post reporting that Manning's goon squad showed up at that pharmacist's parents home has been greeted with radio silence from the mainstream media. Not to mention that Peyton has admitted to that Al-Jazeera report saying that his wife did get a shipment from that anti-aging clinic. My friend Eric Wilbur of the Boston Globe notes the hypocrisy in this issue, and he's right that if this were Tom Brady, it would be a much bigger story. Many people's outrage over PEDs is based on who is doing them!)

Anyhow, back to Newton. Human emotion -- whether it be Carlton Fisk motioning for his home run to go fair, or George Brett having a meltdown, or Jose Bautista flipping his bat in the playoffs -- is what makes sports interesting. So what's wrong with Newton enjoying doing well, and having fun out there? He's earned it!

This is a great matchup tonight between one legend, and the best player in the game today. Here's hoping that in the battle between Denver's Sheriff and Carolina's Superman, that No. 1 is No. 1 at the end of the game. Go Panthers!

P.S. I am hoping the game ends with a 6-9 Broncos/Panthers score, or a  0-0 or 7-7 score for the last digits. That's because I'm in a $250 winner-take-all office pool in which those are my digits!

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