CHICAGO — Cam Newton is a fool.
His response to a question by Jourdan Rodrigue, Panthers beat reporter for the Charlotte Observer, that is was “funny to hear a girl talking about routes” while he laughed at her was inappropriate, ignorant and guaranteed to be a gigantic distraction for his first place Panthers as they prepare for a very difficult trip to Detroit to face another division leader this Sunday.
Please let’s forget the political, social and gender equality issues for a moment and just look at Newton’s football stupidity.
Is there even one of you out there who couldn’t have predicted what a problem this was going to be the second Newton opened his mouth or that it could be gotten rid of easily or quickly?
Yes, I have some history with Newton, a history that made me uniquely qualified to see this one coming a mile down the road.
We invented independent scouting and analysis at Pro Football Weekly, publishing our first scouting reports in 1969, well over a decade before ESPN came along.
In 1978 we hired Joel Buchsbaum, and then marveled at the man universally acknowledged as the best independent scout of all time.
When Joel sadly passed away in 2002, I hired and helped train his successor, Nolan Nawrocki, who many inside the NFL will tell you has been the best since Joel.
And a little less than nine years later, when Nolan and our editors brought me his scouting report on Newton, I was the one who had to decide whether we would publish it or not.
Here is an excerpt of what made that a tough call.
"Very disingenuous -- has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup," Nolan wrote in his scouting report. "Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them. Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law. Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable."
It was harsh, possibly the harshest we’d ever seen in our 32 years of publishing our Draft Guide to that point.
But I met with Nolan at length, checked with close to a dozen of my own sources at the time and confirmed that every word of it was defensible and based in fact and we went with it.
To this day, instead of complimenting Nolan as they should, people criticize him and Pro Football Weekly for it, even though every word of it has been proven true.
Is there a word in that portion of the report that doesn’t fit perfectly with the stupidity of what he did with Rodrigue?
Does it not explain clearly why, according to her, he has yet to apologize her personally?
Newton did issue the following apology via social media Thursday evening, more than 24 hours after the incident:
“After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women,” he said. “And to be honest, that was not my intentions. And if you are a person who took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize to you. I’m a man who tries to be a positive role model to my community and tries to use my platform to inspire others. I take ownership to everything that comes with that. And what I did was extremely unacceptable. I’m a father to two beautiful daughters. And at their age, I try to instill in them that they can do and be anything that they want to be. And the fact that during this whole process, I’ve already lost sponsors and countless fans. I realize that the joke is really on me, and I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this. And to the young people who see this, I hope that you learn something from this as well: Don’t be like me. Be better than me. And to the reporters, to the journalists, to the moms — super moms — to the daughters, the sisters, and the women all around the world, I sincerely apologize and hope you can find the kindness in your heart to forgive me. Thank you.”
In his seventh year in the league, Newton is a better-than-average quarterback and a barely average passer, and were it not for his one magical 2015 season in which all the stars aligned and he was the MVP, average might be an overstatement.
The Panthers are 57-44-1 behind Newton, 42-43-1 if you take out 2015. He has an 86.1 career passer rating — including the 99.4 from ’15 — a well below average 58.7 career completion percentage and a decent 141:83 touchdown-to-interception ratio that becomes a poor 106-73 if you take out ’15. He hasn’t had a 4,000-yard season since his rookie year.
He is arguably the best athlete in the league, and it is his running ability — 3,656 yards, 5.1 YPC and 50 TDs in his six-plus seasons — that makes him better than average at the position.
He also embarrassed his team and his fans with his behavior immediately following its Super Bowl loss in 2015, and there are multiple reports of other off-the-field issues. He embarrassed and insulted the Panthers again with his treatment of Rodrigue, and it’s impossible not to wonder how much longer they'll want to tolerate his obnoxious personality in exchange for his near chronic underachievement.