Cam Newton done dabbing

Photo via Keith Allison/Flickr

Does this really determine whether Cam Newton is a role model?

One of the highlights of last Sunday’s slate of games was watching two quarterbacks, Arizona’s Drew Stanton and Carolina’s Cam Newton, independently dance like nobody was watching when their teams made a big play.

The display from Stanton on the sidelines was entirely awkward and awesome…

…while Newton’s dance was more about trolling and trash-talking but still rather fun to watch:

While Stanton’s move has largely escaped criticism—and from all that I’ve seen, has been praised—some people didn’t appreciate Newton’s moves and his attitude.

And at least one wrote a letter to the editor of the Charlotte Observer, saying that she, as a mother of a nine-year-old who was attending her first game, was disappointed by Newton’s celebration. Yes, really.

Titans fan Rosemary Plorin wrote that her daughter was excited to be seated in the end zone so close to the action. Until Newton began dancing, nearly causing an on-field brawl with the frustrated Titans players.

Wrote Plorin:

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.

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.

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.

(As an aside, before you get too entrenched in using NFL cheerleaders as role models, one should remember this. And this.)

Continued Plorin: “Unfortunately, what you modeled for [the young fans] was egotism, arrogance and poor sportsmanship.”

Newton also showed joy, coordination, athleticism, and how to stand up for one’s self (the Titans had been taunting and trolling Newton earlier in the game, just like every NFL team does). Also, you, as a parent, should know what sitting in the stands of an NFL game is like. Whether Newton is playing or not, it’s usually not a nice place for a nine-year-old kid to be. 

But why does Stanton get a free pass when Newton is the one targeted by the puritanical letter-writers? Besides, with Greg Hardy still prowling the sidelines of every Cowboys game and with concussions and their aftereffects still confounding the game, doesn’t the NFL and its fans have more important things to worry about when it comes to pro football?

Or, Plorin could just direct her daughter to this website so she can find out what else Newton does with his time besides scoring touchdowns and dancing?

But if we’re going to blame Newton for his immaturity or for his attitude or for whatever, let’s forget about his dancing and focus more on things that actually could be problems for the impressionable youth that might look up to him. Because stealing and destroying somebody else’s property is wrong. But dancing is always right.  

Photo via Keith Allison/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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