By Joe Giordano || Assistant Sports Editor
This past weekend at the NFL award show, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was honored as the league’s Most Valuable Player. While leading his team to the Super Bowl and a 15-1 record, Newton had an incredible year, totaling 45 total touchdowns and over 4,000 yards. There was little denying that he had the best statistical year of any NFL player and was undoubtedly deserving of the award he received. However, the debate on Newton has become more about his on-field antics rather than his play on the field itself. Whether you love him or you hate him, everyone has a strong opinion one way or the other on the Carolina quarterback.
As a Panthers fan (No, I am not a bandwagon like most of Carolina’s “fans”, I have been a fan since the deplorable days when Jimmy Clausen was their quarterback), I love tuning in each week to watch Cam Newton play the game of football. There are very few players that have the passion and will to win that Cam brings to the field each week and you can tell that he takes no plays off. Yes, Cam may “dab” whenever he scores a touchdown or point down field after he gets a first down, but in the long run why does this all really matter? Newton plays with a childlike passion that most parents hope their kids will eventually have towards a profession, and it seems like he is in his glory every single time he gets to put on the pads and truly enjoys to play the game he loves so much. While I understand the other teams becoming upset or frustrated after he celebrates when he scores, Cam said it best when he said, “If you don’t like my touchdown dances, stop me from scoring.”
While there are many like me who love tuning in to watch Newton play each and every week, he obviously has his fair share of critics. There are those who view Cam’s celebrations as disrespectful, despicable, and believe that he is a disgrace to the game of football. There is currently a petition to prevent Newton from playing at the Seattle Seahawks home field, CenturyLink Field, and after a game this season a mother of a young Seahawks fan wrote a letter to Cam Newton calling him “Mr. Classless.” While I understand the sentiment against previous NFL players who had a knack for inappropriate celebrations (Randy Moss mooning the fans in Green Bay or Terrell Owens celebrating on the Cowboys’ star come to mind), I have a hard time believing Newton’s celebrations are of the same intent. I don’t see how giving a football to a young Panthers fan after a touchdown can be compared to mooning someone or disgracing a team’s logo.
While fans are entitled to their own opinions on Cam, calling him classless is just unwarranted. As a community, the NFL must embrace him as the future of the league and give credit where credit is due. People may not like his antics but I argue that they are simply out of passion for the game rather than cockiness or disrespect.
The man has led his injury-filled team to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl, and deserves the respect of his peers and fans across the league. I suggest everyone watch the Super Bowl and watch a man who genuinely loves his job compete on the grandest of stages and for those who don’t like him, like Cam says in his Beats Headphones commercial, “Too bad they don’t make band aids for feelings.”
Sophomore Joe Giordano is the Assistant Sports Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.