ESPN's Skip Bayless and Brian Urlacher aren't fans of Cam Newton's celebrations. Neither is one mother in Tennessee, who wrote a letter to the editor slamming Newton's "chest puffs… pelvic thrusts… arrogant struts and 'in your face' taunting."
Talk radio is having a field day trolling Newton as arrogant and immature. Ditto for social media, where the Panthers' quarterback has suddenly become the most polarizing figure in sports. The Guardian characterized Newton as "conservative white America's heel from hell."
Sure, the NFL has become the "No Fun League," but the overreaction to Newton's joyful celebrations is getting out-of-hand.
After all, this is the same league where Aaron Rodgers' post-touchdown championship-belt celebration is so popular, it's sponsored by State Farm. So why does Rodgers get million-dollar endorsement checks while Newton gets criticized?
Newton has the answer.
"I'm an African-American quarterback that scares people because they haven't seen nothing that they can compare me to," Newton told reporters last week. That feeling is seconded by former black quarterbacks Doug Williams and Warren Moon (though someone accused of domestic abuse probably shouldn't have compared the criticism to "rape").
There's probably some truth to the race angle, at least for some backwards fans. After all, despite Newton's workman-like attitude and his devotion to helping children, it hasn't stopped critics from labeling him as a "thug" over his attire, or calling him a "gangbanger" over some Instagram photos of Newton wearing a bandana.
Personally, I think it's less about race and more about the struggle between old-school and new-school. According to the mostly old, white talking heads who cover the league, quarterbacks aren't supposed to dance and dab. They want every quarterback to act like Johnny Unitas, who simply turned and walked off the field after Alan Ameche scored the winning touchdown to end the 1958 NFL Championship Game in overtime:
I say let them dance. Football isn't brain surgery -- it's entertainment. Who ultimately wins is a lot less important than whether fans enjoyed the game, so I'd say get rid of all the puritanical rules limiting celebratory dances in football. In what sane world does Newton's teammate Josh Norman deserve a 15-yard penalty for pretending the football is a horse? (Go to the 8-minute mark of this NFL officiating video for the hilarious explanation.)
So to the talking heads, old-school defenders and possibly racist fans, can we stop it with the over-the-top compaints about Newton's celebrations? As the Panthers quarterback said himself: "It's not an issue. It's an issue for you."