The Carolina Panthers have been dominating the headlines in the NFL in recent weeks. From blowing out the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, to having the leagues lone remaining unblemished record, it’s not hard to find headlines.
The team led by Cam Newton coached by Ron Rivera has not lost a regular season game since they fell to 3-9-1 over a calendar year ago after a loss on the road in Minnesota. They are playing excellent football, built on a great defense and a sound rushing attack. If it sounds like this team belongs in a different era of the sport, you’re not mistaken, but that style of football is still working.
Through all of this however, there has been a different headline surrounding the team that has caused some controversy, one that doesn’t have to relate to their record at all.
Many have been upset with how Newton celebrates his touchdowns, and even his first downs. I totally see where this criticism is coming from, in fact, I usually am disappointed with how athletes celebrate their on field accomplishments.
Whether it is throwing up a money sign, slashing a throat, standing over an opponent or whatever, these actions usually are a disgrace to the game, showing up competition and just a display of bad character. You can even argue that all of this is setting a bad example, although whether or not athletes should be role models to the younger generations is something I would need to devote to another column.
With all of this being said, I do not have a problem with Newton’s actions on the gridiron this year. There is a fine line between having fun, and showing up your opponent, a line that I do not think Newton has crossed. To me, it just seems like he is having a blast playing the game he loves.
What’s wrong with that? It’s actually really refreshing to see. The game was created for fun to begin with, it is entertainment. Newton is living that.
With all of the stress and pressure to win that athletes face today, it’s nice to see them break out their inner child every once in a while. I know they are getting paid a lot of money, and there are responsibilities that come with that, I’m not making excuses for the hardships of playing sports, but you can still have fun.
Newton is showing that. Good for him, and if he and the Panthers keep playing the way they are, there will be a lot more to celebrate in Carolina this year.