I took a little inventory, and discovered that I only have one sports story. So I apologize to my sports fans. Here’s another one.
If you’ve been following the National Football League, you likely know about the Carolina Panthers and their historic rise to a perfect 11-0 record.
If you’ve been following even closer than that, you may have heard about the infamous letter written to superstar quarterback Cam Newton that was published in The Charlotte Observer.
If you haven’t heard, what had happened was, a Nashville mother (likely the suburban “I’d like to speak to a manager” type mother) attended a game in Charlotte with her nine-year-old daughter. She and her child both witnessed the quarterback engaging in celebratory victory dances and carrying himself in a way that showed the crowd just how exciting it was to be a Carolina Panther.
Rosemary Plorin (remember, I said Nashville–so this woman was an away fan at a Carolina vs. Tennessee game) was not happy with the quarterback.
“Dear Mr. Newton,
Congratulations on your win in Nashville today. Our team played well, but yours played better. Kudos to the Panthers organization.
That game happened to be my nine year old daughter’s first live NFL experience. She was surprised to see so many Panthers’ fans sitting in our section of the stadium; that doesn’t happen much at fourth grade football games. And she was excited we were near the end zone, so we would be close to the “action,” particularly in the second half.
Because of where we sat, we had a close up view of your conduct in the fourth quarter. The chest puffs. The pelvic thrusts. The arrogant struts and the ‘in your face’ taunting of both the Titans’ players and fans. We saw it all.
Okay, stop for a moment.
“We saw it all.”
I love that part, because she sounds like a vice principal who just caught a seventh grader dicking around in the halls.
Like she was so happy to catch him in the act.
I refuse to believe you don’t realize you are a role model. You are paid millions of dollars every week to play hard and be a leader. In the off season you’re expected to make appearances, support charities, and inspire young kids to pursue your sport and all sports. With everything the NFL has gone through in recent years, I’m confident they have advised that you are, by virtue of your position and career choice, a role model.
And because you are a role model, your behavior brought out like behavior in the stands. Some of the Panthers fans in our section began taunting the hometown fans. Many Titans fans booed you, a few offering instructive, but not necessarily family friendly, suggestions as to how you might change your behavior.
Ma’am, with all due respect, you were at a professional football game.
It’s not exactly the classiest or most respectful or ‘tame’ environment you can throw your fourth grader into.
And Cam Newton is the quarterback for the home team; of course he’s going to try to hype up the crowd. And of course the folks from Tennessee are gonna hate it. It’s sports.
Crazed fans can be really offensive and borderline insane.
Oh, sorry, not a sport. Oh well.
My daughter sensed the change immediately – and started asking questions. Won’t he get in trouble for doing that? Is he trying to make people mad? Do you think he knows he looks like a spoiled brat?
I didn’t have great answers for her, and honestly, in an effort to minimize your negative impact and what was otherwise a really fun day, I redirected her attention to the cheerleaders and mascot.
Oh, wow. Nice call.
Redirect her attention to the real role models: the guy dancing in a stuffed animal costume and the girls dancing in very adult outfits for the disgusting men in the crowd.
Side note: this letter reminds me of a particular Key & Peele sketch. Anyone remember it?
I could tell she was still thinking about it as we boarded a shuttle back to our car. “I guess he doesn’t have kids or a Mom at home watching the game,” she added.
I don’t know about your family life Mr. Newton, but I think I’m safe in saying thousands of kids watch you every week. You have amazing talent and an incredible platform to be a role model for them. Unfortunately, what you modeled for them today was egotism, arrogance and poor sportsmanship.
Is that what your coaches and mentors modeled for you, Mr. Newton?”
Clearly, Plorin’s issue with Newton’s behavior was that she felt it demonstrated unsportsmanlike conduct.
Is there such a thing as ‘excessive’ celebration? Techincally, yes.
But the questions Plorin would receive after drafting up a strongly worded note like this would be along the lines of, “What about Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers?” Apparently Rodgers does that ‘belt’ thing that sort of looks like a pelvic thrust. But if it’s not, would a nine-year-old know the difference?
Then, as is the 2015 norm, people will cash in their freaking race cards on a situation like this.
Plorin was called a bad parent and a racist among other things, because apparently there’s never any outrage when athletes behave this way.
(Sorry, I’m just feelin’ Jonah today.)
But I’ll save that drama for another day. For now, as far as humanboddie.com is concerned, this woman is no racist. This is just a Tennessee mom who somehow had enough time to write a football player about dance moves.
Let’s move on to Mr. Newton’s response.
“Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. Everyone is. You can’t fault her for that…If she feels offended, I apologize to her, but at the end of the day, I am who I am. It is what it is.”
Well, it seems that Plorin’s letter didn’t upset Newton too much. He did not get defensive, and he respected Plorin’s feelings about the situation, as well as the feelings of those who may have agreed with her. Nice, I suppose.
Jonah approves, too.
Newton of course was interviewed by several media outlets, and he was able to say whatever he needed to and make his response to the letter and other controversies.
Here’s what Plorin had to say after that:
“I watched the video of Cam Newton responding to media questions about my letter to him earlier this week. I really appreciate his comments and his respect for my thoughts, and I was impressed with the sensitivity and graciousness with which he spoke. I am sorry I didn’t understand him better until this week. It is clear from his remarks that he recognizes his leadership role, both on and off the field, and that he truly cares about the kids watching him. I respect his comments just as much as he did mine, and I wish him nothing but continued success on the field and in life.”
Basically, this entire interaction never needed to happen.
The whole story was this:
Lady thought Cam was bad.
Turns out Cam isn’t so bad.
Lady now sees Cam isn’t so bad.
I just decided to tell you in 1100 words instead of 17.
Have we learned a little lesson in sportsmanship here?
Honestly, I’m not sure.
Actually, probably not.
But even though these mommy-written letters can come off as annoying or unnecessary, at least we have people who genuinely care. And as for Cam Newton, it’s good that we have athletes who are impressive both on and off the field.
we’re all human.