I am old school…although I “fully” admit to be having embraced my “hippy” gene in my old age. Despite the discovery of this hippy gene, I am sure my former players and coaching chums will be somewhat surprised to read the view I am going to express. “Act like you’ve been there before” was a mantra I used or have heard used a thousand times that had been expressed by the immortal Bear Bryant. If you are in athletics you understand, “Act like you’ve been there before,” is an old school statement about celebrating…a score, or now, even a first down. Old school was all about anything other than “self-expression.” “There is no ‘ME’ in TEAM!” Whether it is the “Ickey Shuffle,” “Lambeau Leap” or “dabbin’,” I still would like to see them score and just hand the ball to the official but we are in a “hey look at me world,” in a game that should be about having fun. What’s so bad about that?
Cam Newton has re-defined the definition of “having fun” …and the position of quarterback along with the word “polarizing.” Loved by Panther fans and hated by everyone else, I would predict that he could care less about those who use detractions like, “showboat,” “braggart,” and “classless,” which are some of the mild ones I have seen. In fact, by his own admission, he uses the detractors as motivation. With the frame and strength of a linebacker, a strong arm and better than average “pro” speed, he is the “freak of nature personified” and probably does not need any more motivation to be successful. With good looks and a “million dollar” smile, I do admit to a bit of a man crush.
Do I wish Cam would just hand the ball to the official when he scores? Once I did, but seeing the faces of the youngsters who have received his game ball “gifts”, I have to agree with his particular brand of “having fun” even when he goes into his Superman pose. I once described a very good high school baseball player as having a “little league” mentality. This description was not a putdown. I was remarking about his ability to “have fun” in the same way as a “wide-eyed” little leaguer despite the pressure to receive a college scholarship or becoming a draft pick. He received both and had a career in the major leagues, both as a player and as a coach. I see Cam the same way, as in playing as a youth league player. There seems to be a “child-like” wonderment along with the “million dollar” smile. Yeah, he makes a boat load of money playing a child’s game but I would bet “his” money that money is not his primary motivation.
I try to live by, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” or at least keep my mouth shut and only “sin” in my mind. With many of our sports idols and “role models” I find myself asking, “What were you thinking” when it comes to some of their “off of the field” activities. As Johnny Manziel is finding out, Social Media is not your friend when you, yourself, are your own worst enemy. When one Google’s Cam Newton, there is very little “smut” to dig up. No arrests, no drugs, no spousal or girlfriend abuse. Yeah Cam had the wreck with many assuming incorrectly it was drug or alcohol related, and there is an “out of wedlock” child that he recognizes and takes responsibility for despite the lack of wedding band on his hand. He brought some baggage with him from Auburn, but was it his fault or the fault of an overly involved father or the climate that is college football? Not as tame as Tim Tebow but a far cry from Johnny Manziel. More importantly is his foundation for disadvantaged kids and his many activities giving back to the Charlotte and Atlanta communities. Not only does he provide money but he also invests his time. Gee, I hope he is a good guy…did I forget the “Santa Cam’s Surprise Sleigh?”
Professional athletes have the opportunity to do much good and it is heartwarming for a retired teacher and coach to see a young man who GETS IT and DOES IT. Johnny maybe you should go talk to Cam about what you might do with your time. Is Cam perfect? No way! Most twenty-six-year-old men will have skeletons in their closet that, in twenty or thirty years from now, they will wish weren’t there. I am sure Cam will be no different…than I was.
Viewing this year’s Super Bowl will be interesting and a win-win for me regardless of the outcome. I will pull for the local Panthers and their brash young quarterback but can’t help but pull for “old school” Peyton Manning and hope he gets to ride off into the sunset with a second ring. I will be disappointed whichever team comes up short and I guess I will be pulling for both offenses.
When I watch Cam Newton “having fun” I think of a brash pitcher from the 1930’s who was once quoted to have said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.” Dizzy Dean had predicted that he and his brother would combine to win forty-five games in 1934. He was wrong…they won forty-nine. Win or lose on Super Bowl Sunday, Cam ain’t braggin’…but I guess we will have to wait and see how the game plays out to see if he is dabbin’.
Don Miller has written and self-published three books that may be purchased through or downloaded on any device with a Kindle app.
Inspirational true stories in WINNING WAS NEVER THE ONLY THING by Don Miller #1.99 on #Kindle goo.gl/DiO1hcX
“STUPID MAN TRICKS” explained in Don Miller’s FLOPPY PARTS $.99 on Kindle http://goo.gl/Ot0KIu
“Baby Boomer History” in Don Miller’s PATHWAYS $3.49 on Kindle http://goo.gl/ZFIu4V