Band-aids for feelings

With the Super Bowl tonight, it’s inconceivable to hate on Cam Newton for his celebrations on the field. Scrutinizing Newton goes beyond just the enthusiasm; the unfair criticism toward Newton as well as other black quarterbacks is wrong, and it doesn’t belong in the 21st century.


Swartz on sports and Gabe Swartz

“It’s too bad they don’t make Band-Aids for feelings.” That’s what the 2016 NFL MVP Cam Newton said in his most recent commercial with Beats by Dre, and it is exactly what should be said to everyone who doesn’t like what he is doing right now. After a victory against the Tennessee Titans, a woman wrote a letter to Newton about what sportsmanship really looked like. The woman said she refused to believe Newton didn’t understand that he was a role model and that he displayed egotism, arrogance and poor sportsmanship. As absurd as it might seem, people are criticizing Newton for dabbing, dancing and distributing footballs to kids after he scores touchdowns, like Santa distributes toys on Christmas Eve. Isn’t the game supposed to be entertaining? It’s not rude and it definitely isn’t disrespectful that a quarterback for once has decided to have a personality and display the fact that he enjoys winning. It doesn’t make any sense to me that in a league that has been tarnished because of players who have had domestic abuse charges against them like Greg Hardy, or cheating scandals like Spygate and Deflategate, that its fans have chosen Newton and his abundance of happiness as something to target and hate on. You can believe what you want about everything he does, but appreciate his skills for what they are worth.

Over the course of time in NFL history, black quarterbacks have always been questioned about whether they can learn and comprehend a playbook while white quarterbacks are just expected to eventually figure it out for themselves. After winning the Heisman trophy and a national championship at the University of Auburn, Newton faced the same issues as other successful black college quarterbacks. While it’s disappointing that in 2016 we are still asking the same questions about whether black quarterbacks can “get the job done,” it still continues to happen. Instead of making a big deal about his celebrations and whether or not they are good, we need to embrace his unique and different style from other traditional quarterbacks. Whether it’s Donovan McNabb, Russell Wilson or Cam Newton, we’ve seen black quarterbacks succeed in the NFL on multiple occasions. The real issue is not an intelligence gap between black quarterbacks and white quarterbacks but a difference in preconceived expectations that black quarterbacks are unable to understand pro-style offenses. The increase of spread offenses in college football is what puts all quarterbacks at a learning disadvantage, not the color of their skin.   

After five seasons in the NFL, Newton has answered every question that has been asked of him and become one of the faces of the league as a rusher and a passer for the Carolina Panthers – but he has also faced more scrutiny than anyone else in the league for his on-field dancing, celebrating and just the pure joy with which he plays. There is nothing more hypocritical than a fan saying they dislike Newton because he is cocky, arrogant and egotistical when those same traits can be applied to Tom Brady, whom they love for his passion and love for the game. Just because Newton’s celebrations are more trendy than Brady’s rah rah celebrations doesn’t mean he is disrespectful and bad for the league. During the Super Bowl tonight, stop and enjoy Peyton Manning, one of the fading stars of the league, go against the up-and-coming face of the league in Newton.