I’m sure, by now, most sports fans have heard about the controversy surrounding Carolina Panther’s GM, Jerry Richardson, and his comments on The Charlie Rose Show. He basically paraphrased a conversation he had with Cam Newton, prior to drafting him, in which he apparently asked him if he had any tattoos. When Cam said no, Jerry said “Let’s keep it that way.” Apparently, this quote specifically, has got everyone talking.
Now, before we go any further, let’s address this quote. This quote was made during an interview, while paraphrasing another conversation. For all those people out there who are saying, “He has no right to talk to Cam like he is a child.” Stop! You sound foolish. It is likely that he did not choose the same words when this conversation actually took place. I’m quite certain that Mr. Richardson was merely keeping his response to Charlie Rose’s question, direct and to the point. Furthermore, if he had been as disrespectful to Cam as this quote would imply, do you really think that Newton would have just kept his mouth shut about it? No way. He would have told someone, likely his agent, and we would have already known. This happened months ago, and the first we are hearing of it, is in a re-telling on a tv show. Give me a break.
Another thing that needs to be addressed is the idea that the owner of a franchise, has no right to make suggestions to his players about how they should carry themselves. Especially, if that player is likely to be the face of the franchise for the next decade. Ultimately, the player can decide for himself whether or not he will take the advice. The NY Yankees have had rules in place for years that require all players to have short hair and be clean shaven. ALWAYS! It’s about team image, and Richardson may just be trying to create a better one for his suffering franchise. What better way to do that, then with the guy who’s expected to be the poster boy for it.
Lastly, and most importantly, let’s get to the real reason that everyone is talking about this issue. RACE. If the player was Blane Gabbert, or Ryan Mallett, people would have commended Richardson for trying to bolster his team image. However, Newton is a young black athlete, and the GM is an old, southern, rich white guy. Ultimately, this dynamic plays out all the time in this country, and 95% of the time, the parties involved have no issue with it, because there was no reason to have one. The problem is the idea of “perceived” racism. In my opinion, one of the things that is far too prevalent in this country.
To fully comment on this subject, I must mention that I am a 41 year old, white male who’s married to a 40 year old black woman. In addition, we have 2 children. I will never try to convince anyone that being married to an African American somehow means I understand what it means to be black. It does, however, allow me the freedom to say things that might otherwise be categorized as that “perceived” racism. That being said, our media has to stop being so quick to try to get out in front of anything that could be interpreted as racially charged. Just because there is a small portion of the minority population that want to cry racism about the most ludicrous things, doesn’t mean you need to perpetuate it by giving it validity. I am so tired of hearing sports guys today saying, “I’m sure that person A was not in any way trying to be racist to person B, but I can understand why someone might think that.” BULLSHIT!!! If you’re smart enough to look at what happened, evaluate it, and conclude that it was not racist, then why make apologies to the jackasses who can’t. The truth is, the only racists in the debate are the ones screaming that something was racist. There is enough REAL racism in this country going unreported, so let’s stop wasting time complaining about the moments when it doesn’t exist. It’s getting old and so am I. It would be nice for these issues to be gone before my children are old enough to be effected by them.