Super Bowl 50 is finally here. Let’s scoff at the media and celebrate Cam Newton and the Panthers. I guess I’ll make a pick too. (Image by Huntley Paton)
Last Week: 1 – 1 – 0
Playoffs: 8 – 2 – 0
Sunday, February 7 (6:30PM ET)
Once again the two weeks leading up the Super Bowl have been an absolute bore. I probably only feel this way because my team is almost never in the Super Bowl, but whatever. I did this last year and liked it, so here are the “major” stories dominating Super Bowl headlines:
- Cam Newton is hated by white people
- Cam Newton is not hated by white people
- Why people do or do not hate Cam Newton
- Cam Newton’s pants
- Peyton Manning’s future
- People that are ok with Cam Newton dancing
- People that are not ok with Cam Newton dancing
Obviously, I could not care less about these stories. I’m a white person. I love Cam Newton. I’m a white person. I love it when Cam Newton Dances. I’m a white person. I would never wear those Zebra jeans, but I appreciate the boldness. I’m a white person. I don’t care about Peyton Manning’s future right now. Is he playing Sunday? Can he see, walk, talk and use whatever strength is left in his arm? If yes, that’s all I need to know.
I know I said I wasn’t interested in who hates Cam Newton and why, but the one thing I did notice was the ignorance on both sides of the argument. Obviously, this is my opinion, but two groups of people really annoyed me throughout this discussion. First were the white people scoffing at the idea of white people hating Cam Newton because of his skin color. Racists are horrible people. Those who ignore its existence are just as bad. Second are those that hijacked Newton’s exceptional season and Super Bowl platform to inflate this notion that there’s widespread hatred for Newton and the Carolina Panthers because they’re an “unapologetically black team.”
The only negative opinion I recall from this season about Newton was the mother in Nashville who was appalled at Newton dancing in the end zone. Perhaps her discontent stems from Newton’s race, but we don’t know that. Her issue was with Newton’s behavior and “lack of respect” for his opponent. (A totally bogus argument, by the way.) The narrative about Newton being hated by white people is backed only by message boards and Twitter mentions. So while the hatred does exist, it’s mostly from the delusional, mindless and ultimately worthless trolls on social media, and not widespread throughout white America like some certain individuals would have us believe.
Our society loves negativity. Instead of pushing a story with little proof like white people hating Newton, perhaps the media should have spent these two weeks propping up Newton’s accomplishments on and off the field. Newton was undoubtedly the NFL’s best player in 2015. He’s revolutionized the position like Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick before him. We’ve never seen a mobile quarterback this big or this apt at throwing the football. NFL quarterbacks are notoriously stern and robotic. Newton plays like we all believe we would if given the chance. Why hasn’t anyone written a piece showing how Newton doesn’t use his celebrations to show up opponents but to celebrate with his team, his fans and his city. The only times I’ve seen Newton celebrate or dance in front of or in the direction of an opponent was when the opponent displayed an issue with Newton dancing.
Newton is the most lovable star the NFL has had since Brett Favre. He’s open. He’s honest. He’s funny. Every interaction I’ve seen between him and kids is stupendous. He treats those children as if they’re the most important thing in the world at that moment. Why aren’t these the stories flooding my Twitter feed? I’m not downplaying the race issue. I think it’s great what Newton stands for and that he’s not ashamed nor willing to apologize for being black. He never should. But instead of flooding the news with exaggerated stories about people hating Cam Newton why not feed the much, MUCH, MUCH larger majority that absolutely can’t get enough of Cam Newton the person?
One final thought, then I’ll stop. Through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc… we as a society have become so involved with everyone else’s lives that we feel threatened and/or jealous when someone’s else’s success/happiness is revealed to us on a consistent basis. Cam Newton is a chronic smiler. There’s no doubt in my mind this rubs people who hate their lives the wrong way.
I mean look at this guy, he smiles after a car wreck;
— jacqui (@heyjdey) January 25, 2016
during a fight;
@jadande Really might be the most photogenic athlete ever, all smiles right in the middle of that fight with Norman. pic.twitter.com/D3atCZvK6V
— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) January 25, 2016
and after taking a hit from a linebacker.
Cam stays smiling pic.twitter.com/1Xnr1EyUc6
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) January 25, 2016
[Stepping off my soap box now…]
All season I’ve rooted for Newton and the Panthers. (Except of course when they played the Eagles.) I mean how could you not like a team doing things like this on the sidelines of the NFC Championship Game…
See you in Santa Clara! #PantherNation #KeepPounding pic.twitter.com/crFr5Z6utJ
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 25, 2016
The Panthers are fun in so, so many ways. With that said, over the last two weeks I’ve battled with rooting against the Panthers and Cam Newton. Did the Panthers do something to irk me? Did I fall out of love with their energy? Do I secretly hate black people?
The only reason I’ve considered rooting against the Panthers is because – and this is an embarassing admission – I want Steph Curry to feel pain and sadness (ducking my head in shame). Not real life pain and sadness but sports pain and sadness. What Curry did to the Spurs two weeks ago hurt my soul. I want him to feel that pain. Since it appears he may never lose another basketball game again, a Panthers loss is the only way he’ll suffer.
Oh, right, the football game. I almost forgot. I like Denver’s defense. I’m not sure how the NFL’s top ranked defense remains underrated, but the Broncos have pulled it off. They still don’t get enough credit for Denver’s season. With an average or even above average defense, Denver finishes with 7 or 8 wins and misses the playoffs. Yet here they are 60 minutes from a championship. What that defense did to the Patriots in the AFC title game was amazing. I’m just not convinced it’ll work will such efficiency against Newton and the Panthers. Let me explain.
Denver took Julian Edelman away from Tom Brady. Brady knows if he can’t find someone open in 2 seconds, Edelman will be open streaking across the middle of the field within 7 yards of the line of scrimmage. Denver swarmed Edelman and mauled him at the line, delaying his routes and making it impossible for him to get open and for Brady to find him. Brady isn’t elusive like Aaron Rodgers and he clearly doesn’t run like Russell Wilson. After Brady’s first read was covered and Edelman was M.I.A., Brady was a sitting duck. Add that to an atrocious performance by New England’s offensive line and you get Brady suffering the most hits a QB took all season. Newton isn’t Tom Brady. He can extend plays and punish defenses like Russell Wilson. Newton can also fire off his canon of an arm with little room and no wind up. Those days are gone for Brady. The Panthers also stretch defenses with Ted Ginn Jr. The Broncos had little reason to respect the Patriots 30 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. New England has lacked a deep threat since Randy Moss left and Brady isn’t proficient with the deep ball anymore. Carolina poses more offensive threats than New England. I’m still expecting a solid performance from Denver’s defense, but I’d be shocked if they were able to limit Newton and the Panthers offense like they did the Patriots. There’s too many ways for the Panthers to beat you, and if Newton is able to extend plays he’ll dissect the defense with precision like he did to Seattle and Arizona.
On the other side of the ball, the matchup is more lopsided. I love Peyton Manning. It would be nice to see him leave with a Super Bowl. I just don’t see it happening. Denver struggles to run the football with any consistency. Carolina boasts the league’s best cornerback in Josh Norman. Given Manning’s lack of arm strength, Norman’s presence essentially eliminates one side of the field. I thought the Broncos were extremely lucky with the way the football bounced two weeks ago. On at least two occasions the Patriots were a foot or two from interceptions that would have been returned for touchdowns. Instead the football fell harmlessly to the ground. Luck isn’t often on your side two weeks in a row. Manning must be super conservative with the football Sunday if the Broncos have any chance. Carolina’s defense has already scored 2 touchdowns this postseason and gifted the offense possession inside their own 30 on several other occasions. Manning’s best shot at a victory is to play it safe and let the defense win the day, because if he doesn’t, the Panthers will do their best recreation of Super Bowl 48.
It’s Carolina’s Super Bowl to lose. I don’t see them losing it. While seeing Steph Curry suffer would bring me some joy, I’d rather see Cam Newton’s amazing season crowned with a title. He’s the NFL’s best player. The Carolina Panthers were the NFL’s best team. I’m not going to overthink this one. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley; Panthers -6
Last Week: 1 – 1 – 0
Playoffs: 5 – 5 – 0