The Curious Case of Cameron Newton, Why Race isn’t a Factor, But Ignorance Is
Here is how they gon’ come at you
With silly raps for you tryin’ to distract you
In disguise, in the form of a favor
The Barzini me, watch for the traitors
Jay Z on Drake’s “Light Up”
What Hov was trying to explain to Drake is that when you are the “chosen one”, there are going to be outside factors trying to distract you from your success. There will always be people pretending to be friendly that are ready to stab you in the back. You always have to have your eyes open and on the prize.
Two things you learn in journalism school are:
1- The cover up is always bigger than the crime
2- Sex sells
Those two principles have been around since the Boardwalk Empire days, but if I was teaching young journalists in today’s media landscape I would add something else.
3- What happens off the court (field) is as relevant, if not more so than what happens on the court (field).
What happens on the court (field) is just the set up, an alley oop so to speak, to the discussions that go on in media. Once we moved to more digital forms of media where more people can call themselves “journalists” and everyone opinions can be seen, the traditional X & O style of reporting went by the wayside.
I wonder if Michael Jordan and others superstars of 90’s off the field transgressions would have been so easily covered up in 2012?
Could Jordan get away with punching Steve Kerr in the face at practice? Can you imagine the media frenzy that would take place if it was leaked that Lebron James punched Mario Chalmers?
This is the media world that Cameron Newton was born into.
It is a gift and curse, because it is also the reason his ascension to superstardom came so quickly. You have to understand, when he got to Auburn he wasn’t on the mainstream radar and in less than 8 months he won a Heisman Trophy, National Championship and was the #1 pick in NFL Draft. Those weren’t even the biggest reasons he became a media sensation.
It was the back story.
The stolen laptop and subsequent dismissal from Florida, the year at the Juco, his preacher father allegedly offering up his services to the highest bidder and all the drama that came from that.
It was a made for TMZ movie.
Another change in media is that reporters now see themselves as celebrities and characters. The market is flooded now, so to get your voice heard. Some have decided to be worshipers of the House of Skip, meaning they feel the need to have EXTREME takes to get noticed.
Cameron is the perfect athlete for the media to either LOVE or HATE. There is also a hint of jealousy involved. Don’t underestimate the fact that some journalists secretly hate that they aren’t the ones under center and will take out their frustrations about themselves on the athlete.
There wasn’t a lot of middle ground in reporting about Cameron’s NFL prospects. It became personal and self-serving, it wasn’t about Cameron, it was about getting on 1st Take or Pro Football Talk.
No matter what you said the other side would attack you.
The fact he was a black quarterback only added another level of discord between the media, fans and Cameron.
I often say that the best way for an athlete to handle a critic is to produce on the field. That is what Cameron did in his first year in Carolina.
Enough people were praying for his downfall that when he exceeded expectations he unintentionally created an expectation that realistically couldn’t be met.
For those in the media who aren’t Skiptized, Cameron’s actions this year aren’t that different from his actions last year, so what changed?
Cameron’s supporters were so buoyed by his success they started to CROWN him way to early. You started to hear whispers of the Panthers going to the Super Bowl and Cameron winning the MVP. They totally ignored not only glaring weaknesses in Cameron’s game, but also the Panthers team .
Cameron’s detractors were so silenced by his success that at the first sign of trouble this year, they POUNCED. They couldn’t wait to say “I told you so….”. They also totally ignored the fact that many 2nd year quarterbacks have a bit of slump since the NFL has had a full season to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
The question you hear a lot is….
“Why aren’t they critical of other quarterbacks they way they are critical of Cam”.
Andy Dalton is also struggling in his second year and no one cares, the reason is simple. What is “sexy” about Andy Dalton? What is the interesting back story about Andy Dalton? When did Andy Dalton call himself an Icon?
This is a Kardashian based society, no one cares about being fair, they care about what you the reader, viewer and listener have strong feelings for.
Cameron likes being a star and the center of attention. The spotlight isn’t just on when things are going well, but also when things are bad, how you handle it determines how you are perceived and covered.
Tim Tebow has the biggest spotlight of anyone in the NFL. Don’t think for a minute if he said or did something controversial it wouldn’t be breaking news on every newspaper, website and TV station in the country.
The difference between Tebow and Cameron is Tebow employs a Floyd Mayweather style defense to controversy, no matter how much he is baited he never takes the bait.
They call him garbage, say he should be cut, cry about him being a distraction and in the simplest terms he hits them with the “God Bless You” line and keeps it moving. He isn’t all in his feelings, so he makes it impossible for his detractors to question him “off the field” only “on the field”.
As Deion Sanders once said there are a lot of “Yes Men” around, but you need to have a “No Man”. Cameron has no one to tell him how he should handle adversity, because frankly when he has gotten in trouble before nothing has ever happened and he was winning throughout.
Winning masks a lot of things, while losing exposes them.
On the field Cameron’s numbers are virtually the same as last year, but this isn’t about numbers, this is about perception.
The perception last year was that what he was doing was amazing and the perception this year is that he isn’t doing enough. This is causing a debate that is more heated than Romney vs. Obama and similar to politics the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
The elephant in the room that seems to be taboo is the train of thought that Cameron’s race is a factor in his criticism. Interesting thing about those who say he is being treated unfairly are using his race as a shield from valid criticism.
That is hypocrisy and doesn’t help Cameron at all. Don’t race bait, it is a lazy form of reporting. Racism will always be around, but the majority of people who are truly racist and making those type of comments are idiots who hate their own lives, they don’t represent the majority and definitely not the media.
Mainstream media isn’t racist, they are just ignorant to certain things and it makes them sound racist. Also, just like mainstream society they are influenced by stereotypes and it comes out in their reporting. Once again that isn’t racist, just ignorance. Don’t get the two confused.
People get upset if you compare a black quarterback to another black quarterback, but what if the shoe fits? We can’t pretend that Vince Young didn’t come into the league after a National Championship, had a lot of early success and then emotionally the wheels came off. That is a SOUND comparison that anyone can make, who cares if they are both black if the situations are similar?
Cameron being a crossover star who has invited all this attention on himself is much bigger factor than his race. I see how Mark Sanchez, Jay Cutler, any quarterback playing in Arizona, Carson Palmer and the list goes on are treated.
Mark Sanchez has been to two AFC Championships in three years and is MURDERED by the press for his on and off the field activities, so his race isn’t given him any preferential treatment.
Starting quarterback in the NFL is one of the most glamorous positions in the world. You are going to get criticized. If they criticized Joe Montana, I don’t think Cameron Newton is going to get a pass, regardless if the criticisms are fair or not.
I saw this coming last year and made a point of saying that Cameron had to stay focused, not get caught up in the adulation and win games.
Right now, he seems overwhelmed and no one is there to talk to him, so I hope he is reading this and takes notes.
Cameron you are the starting quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, it doesn’t matter what I, the media or fans think, your job is to lead your team.
When you show weakness it trickles down to the team. Leaders don’t pout, they stand tall and overcome adversity. The media are baiting you, your post game press conferences are being dissected like Romney’s tax returns (if we can find them). It is time you learn to shoulder roll and stop opening yourself to continually being left hooked by the media.
Don’t call female reporters “sweetheart”, don’t ask for suggestion boxes, don’t slump, don’t sound like someone just took your Buzz Lightyear toy when you talk, keep your eyes open and remember you are the one who does the Superman dance so stop acting like Clark Kent……..
PS: RG3 Bookmark this article for 2013.