AAMERICAN FOOTBALL
Column
by

Cam Newton’s law – nothing fishy about NFL’s new megastar

The Carolina Panthers’ quarterback is making a statement that many purists don’t like

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 January, 2016, 8:45am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 January, 2016, 6:00pm

Pescetarians, I have known a few. How about you? Anyone you know or met recently that follows a lacto-ovo diet consisting of fish and seafood but absolutely, positively no land animals? Well guess what, pescetarians are people too and they do walk among us. Should you need further proof one of the most notable of their breed is set to explode on America’s national consciousness.

Cam Newton won’t eat a cheeseburger, but he will devour an NFL defence with sadistic glee.

He is also very much an anomaly in the NFL thanks to his freakish talent. There is simply no one who can do what Newton does

An unabashed and open pescetarian, Newton is the dynamic young quarterback of the Carolina Panthers and while he hasn’t posted pictures of himself paddle-boarding with his yoga instructor in Laguna Beach, he is still very much an anomaly in a league where training meals routinely consist of meat, meat and more meat. He is also very much an anomaly in the NFL thanks to his freakish talent. There is simply no one who can do what Newton does. Of course, there is a litany of freakish athletes because that is what the NFL is, but even then none are comparable to Cam.

As he leads his Panthers to Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos, Newton is a terrifying mismatch. He is huge, powerful, fleet and brainy. He can beat you with his throwing arm, with his feet and with his brain. In fact after leading the Panthers to 15 wins and one loss this year, he can just flat out beat you. Ask the Arizona Cardinals, who were steamrolled 49-15 in the NFC Championship game last week by the Panthers. Newton will likely be named the league MVP and the contrast between him and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning could not be starker.

The Broncos made it to the Super Bowl in spite of the gimpy 39-year-old Manning while the Panthers are here in large part because of the ritual brilliance of their 26-year-old signal caller. The old-school Manning has been a star in the league for close to 20 years and descends from royal lineage; both his father and brother were also star quarterbacks.

Newton is most definitely the new breed of NFL superstar, an unrepentant social media sensation constantly posing, preening, posturing and dancing after plays

Newton is most definitely the new breed of NFL superstar, an unrepentant social media sensation constantly posing, preening, posturing and dancing after plays. But however infectious Newton’s joy may be, it is not universally shared.

There is also one other thing about Newton that is less of an anomaly today than it was 30 years ago, however it is noteworthy nonetheless. Newton is only the sixth black man to start at quarterback in a Super Bowl game in a league that is close to 70 per cent black. This being America, the racial subtext is never far from the surface and Newton hardly went out of his way to avoid it.

“I’ve said this since day one,” Newton told the media this past week about the polarising effects his antics have on some fans. “I’m an African American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.”

The anti-Cam contingent, and they are out there in droves, is presumably almost all white and largely middle-aged. Presumably. To them his seemingly narcissistic antics are unbecoming of a role model. They think of him as an uppity ingrate and there is little he can do to convince them otherwise, unless of course he is humbled in the upcoming Super Bowl and begs for forgiveness by becoming the grateful, gee whiz conformist they want him to be.

It’s like here I am, I’m doing exactly what I want to do, how I want to do it, and when I look in the mirror, it’s me
Cam Newton

Well, that ain’t happening. “It’s like here I am, I’m doing exactly what I want to do, how I want to do it, and when I look in the mirror, it’s me,” he said. Newton was second among NFL players in endorsements this past year, earning US$11 million to Manning’s US$12 million. But regardless of the outcome of the Super Bowl, that number should increase exponentially in the coming year.

Unlike the vapid viral vixens and reality TV stars who dot the narcissistic social media landscape, Newton is a man of significant and tangible achievements.

He is a strikingly handsome fellow with a blinding smile and no piercings or tattoos who has been tireless and self-effacing in his charity work. Ironically, Newton is actually far more mainstream than his detractors realise. Still he remains uncompromising and unrepentant, even outspoken when necessary, which is an enviable trait in today’s stifling corporate NFL. Judge him as you will, but watch him you must. Cam Newton is a riveting and unique football player, a generational talent the likes of which we rarely see or may ever see again.

And that more than anything is truly the, ahem, meat of the matter.