Why Cam Newton IS the face of the NFL, and why that's a prob
Losing sucks. When I lose, and thank the Lord it doesn't happen often, the hardest part is walking out of the courtroom. I’ll have just spent the better part of a year preparing for a trial -- conducting discovery, wrangling pretrial matters with opposing counsel, jockeying for favorable evidentiary rulings from the court, tracking down witnesses, reading thousands of pages of deposition transcripts and records, and sometimes learning an entire new field of science/medicine so that I can question opposing experts -- all so that a jury of strangers can rule against me for reasons that I will never know. Maybe we didn't have the better case, maybe we didn’t get the rulings from the judge, maybe they didn’t like my necktie. I’m exhausted, defeated, and questioning my career choices. I just want to go home, open a beer, and sit with my dog.
But when I have to get up and walk out of the courtroom, I'm going to come face to face with my client -- and possibly his or her family. "What happened?" "Why did they rule against us?" "Why would the judge not let me talk about that thing that happened? " "Why was the other side allowed to say whatever they wanted?"
Those questions very quickly give way to accusations. "You screwed it up." "I told you we should have called that witness." "I told you we should have used that document." "YOU lost my case. This is YOUR fault."
In my world, it's not a football game. It's real life, and my client could be going to jail or losing their business or getting stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills that they can never recover. I don't have the luxury of pouting and whining and storming away in a temper tantrum. I have to man up, take the criticism, and calmly advise my client about their rights and the options available to them.
At the Super Bowl, Cam Newton lost. He lost a child's game, and he was paid millions of dollars even though he lost. When I lose, I often get nothing. Then, he went into a press conference, pouted, whined, and stomped out after a few minutes. And the NFL talking heads criticized him for it mercilessly.
The criticism was fair, but it didn't go nearly far enough. It is hardly first time that a group or organization turned on one of its own in response to a falter. The most sanctimonious, holier than thou speech of all came from none other than Deon Sanders, the man who practically invented excessive showboating.
The real problem lies with the NFL and a professional sports culture that glorifies poor sportsmanship and teaches it to kids.
Two years ago, I was watching the Washington Redskins play the final game of one of their worst seasons in franchise history. It was cold and rainy, there were maybe 400 fans in the entire stadium, and the Redskins were losing. Then, one of the Redskins' defenders made a good, solid, open field tackle. After which, he jumped up and started dancing around like he had just won the super bowl. For who? He clearly could not have been having any fun playing in that game. The fans certainly weren't enjoying the game. It couldn't have been for the cameras - the TV audience was probably smaller than the audience in the stadium. So why did he get up and do a victory dance in the middle of one the worst games of the worst season in franchise history? Because it was automatic. It's what the NFL does. The NFL taught him to make a jackass out of himself on live TV.
Everyone is talking about Cam Newton's poor showing at the post-game press conference, but no one mentions the Bronco's receivers doing little dances after each first down in a game where the Bronco's offense could only have been described as "not as terrible as Carolina's." It's stupid, it's embarrassing, and it's poor sportsmanship.
And the NFL loves it. They encourage it. They replay these celebration dances over and over in the highlight reels. They teach young kids that it’s cool to be a poor sport and a jackass. They glorify it. Sure, there are rules against excessive celebrations and against taunting. But a legitimate celebration of a win isn't poor sportsmanship. If I win a case, I want to go out to a nice restaurant with my wife, or take a day off, or even just enjoy a glass of good bourbon. If you score a game changing touchdown or make a key play to stop the other team from winning, by all means, throw your fists in the air and give a triumphant yell.
The badly choreographed dances, however, are not legitimate expressions of victory. They are what they are: pre-planned showboating for the sole purpose of making a spectacle out of yourself and taunting the other side. It is jackassery. It is childish. It is unprofessional.
Do I think the NFL should ban it or change the rules? No. No I do not. I think they should shame it, refuse to indulge the players who do it by refusing to show it on TV, and the NFL talking heads should call it out for the poor sportsmanship that it is.
But most of all, I'd like to see the fans start booing it. We should expect better behavior from a bunch of grown men who get paid a damn lot of money to play a child's game. I'll bet you a dollar that little Cameron Newton watched Deon Sanders dance around like a jackass when he was kid and thought to himself, "I wanna be just like him."
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