Cam Newton: Dissapointed and Dissapointing

Cam Newton Presser After Super Bowl

I’m disappointed for and disappointed with Cam Newton, both at the same time.

First, I’m disappointed for Cam because I like Cam. I do. The Carolina Panthers were arguably the best team in football this year and were the favorite to win Super Bowl 50. With a 15-1 regular season record, they seemed destined to win it all. But it just wasn’t meant to be.  And Cam has been up and down and all around as a pro and as a collegian. He’s been beat up and beat down; he’s taken a lickin’ and he keeps on ticking.  Like him or not, you must admit that his story is compelling.

Cam was a back up to Tim Tebow at Florida. Go figure. Then he was dismissed from the Florida Gators program and fell from grace. Cam landed at a Texas Jr. College, won the JuCo National Championship and then worked his way back to Auburn where he won it all – the BCS Championship game, that is.  His is a rags to riches to rags story, for sure.  

But I’m disappointed with Cam because of his attitude and his ingratitude. Hundreds of NFL veterans would kill to play in a Super Bowl. And while I get it that “you play to win the game! Hello!!!” (thank you, Herman Edwards), you simply can’t win them all. No one does.

But Cam didn’t see it that way. Cam can be a ham but his leg of lamb just got cooked by the Denver Bronco’s battering ram of a defense. So while Cam expected to hit a grand slam, his offense hit a log jam. And it wasn’t pretty. Cam gloated and gloried through the regular season and playoffs and he acted as if the Super Bowl was his to have. His entitled spirit has more than a  touch or a tinge or a twinge of conceit and condescension. And so, it appears that his self-inflicted wounds are what’s probably burning him up the most.

And to add insult to injury, Cam’s countenance fell and his body language went to hell as he soured and sulked and slumped and pouted and puttered and muttered through the game that he felt his team should have won. Yet he got beat like he stole from his own momma. It happens at least once to every athlete. He’s been playing competitively almost all of his life, so he should know what it means to be a good sport, and yet he still doesn’t know how to lose. At least not gracefully and respectfully.

So I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed, not that he lost, but that he handled the loss so poorly and so unprofessionally. He stormed out of the presser (post game press conference) after a unbelievably crass appearance as he responded to reporters questions with haughtiness and hubris. Cam’s arrogance was altogether distressing, disturbing and displeasing. And it was unacceptable.

It just goes to show ya, the Bible is STILL right: pride does come before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Denver’s Defense Does It and Peyton Goes Out On Top

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You can’t be mad. You can’t (unless of course you’re Cam Newton and his offensive line). Unfortunately, Cam was a sham, but it wasn’t all his fault. Not entirely. Denver’s dominant “D” punished the Panthers as Carolina’s “O” line looked like Swiss cheese. They just couldn’t keep Demarcus Ware and Von Miller, the Super Bowl MVP, off and away from the MVP of the NFL.

Peyton Manning wanted to make one thing perfectly clear when he arrived in the Golden Gate City for the golden anniversary of the Super Bowl: “Our defense is what got us here.” Two years ago, Manning brought along the league’s top offense — in fact, the highest-scoring team in NFL history — and things didn’t work out. This time, he’s tagging along with the league’s No. 1 defense.

The “Orange Rush” finished first in the NFL in sacks, yards per play, pass defense and total defense. But to earn their place atop or even alongside the ’85 Bears or ’00 Ravens, Denver’s fearsome front-seven and star-studded secondary did what few thought they could do: they corralled Cam Newton and beat up and beat down the favored Carolina Panthers.

So, congrats to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Now Peyton, who just won his 200th game, the most in NFL history, can ride off into that orange sunset with a second Super Bowl ring. Manning mustered an almost magical performance this season out of his 39-year-old body and that quick mind. And he deserves all of the accolades he can get. It wasn’t easy and sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but in the end, the old man got it done.

And I’m especially happy for Denver Coach Gary Kubiak. Kubiak is a first year coach who was fired by the Houston Texans mid-season in 2013. Winning the Super Bowl in your first year is not bad and not too shabby, either.

So we get another moral, mystical message and another spiritual, theological lesson from Denver and Manning and Coach Kubiak. Denver lost the Super Bowl two years ago in horrific fashion, and this year, they won going away. So it just goes to show ya: you can comeback from way back and you can turn it all the way around.

Super Bowl or Super Bust?

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Is it me, or do this year’s Super Bowl commercials stink?  I mean I haven’t seen a really good one yet.  And I don’t know what’s worse, the game or the commercials. Cam is playing like bad spam, and Peyton hasn’t proven that he can win the game with his arm. For those of you who love defensive games, you must be in hog heaven. But for the rest of us who want to see some offense, COME ON!

Ok, so Cam still has a half to go, so let’s hope that the 2nd half commercials, and the game, are better that the first half. And for us late bloomers, isn’t that what we hope and hunger for too? We all pray and pine and yen and yearn for a better tomorrow. And we all hope that our end is better than our beginning and that our best is yet to come.

Super Bowl 50: Demaryius Thomas, Mom and Sports

 

Bay Bay Moma

Sadly, Demaryius Thomas literally grew up in a crack house. Demaryius was 12 when his mom went to prison, so she missed all of his high school, college and professional games and his successful NFL development.

The last time the Denver Broncos played in the Super Bowl, the mother of Demaryius Thomas did not watch from the stands or from home. Katina Smith and her mother, that’s right – her own mother, Demaryius’s grandmother, were incarcerated and wore jerseys that they had crafted from strips of tape as they watched the game on their prison TV. Katina had been serving 24 years in prison on drug trafficking charges after she turned down a plea deal back in 2000 refusing to testify against her mother, Minnie Pearl Thomas, who is serving life. That’s the bad news.

DT

The good news is that Katina Smith was released five years early from that minimum-security prison in Florida last summer.  Her sentence was commuted in 2015 by President Obama as part of Obama’s push to reduce the prison population of non-violent drug offenders.

After the Super Bowl two years ago, GM John Elway said, ”If we all played like he (Thomas) did, we’d have won.” Thomas’ mother called him after the game. ”She said keep your head up, you’ll get another chance,” Thomas recounted. ”And we got another chance right now. I never thought she would be coming to see me play in the Super Bowl, though. It’s like a dream. It’s a blessing. I’m excited. She’s excited. We’re all excited.”

Back to the present, Thomas caught just two passes for 12 yards in the 2016 AFC Championship game against the Patriots and he had four receptions for 40 yards against Pittsburgh a week earlier – the first time his mother had ever seen him play a football game in person.

After Peyton Manning took a knee in victory formation against the Steelers, he handled the football to Thomas and asked him to give it to his mother. ”She had a ball,” Thomas said. ”She’s still talking about it.” Wow. What a story. And it doesn’t end there. Demaryius loves and is very much concerned about his mom.

“She’s getting used to things a lot faster than I expected,” the star receiver said. ”Oh, she knows how to text now. She uses emojis and all that, Facetime and all that. She caught up quick. The funny thing is she still turns off her phone to charge it.” Thomas still worries about his mother as she navigates modern life outside the lockup. Smith just learned how to drive again, as she is no longer confined to that 20-by-20-foot concrete cell, but sensory overload sometimes imprisons her now.

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“I know it’s not easy for her,” Thomas said. ”She gets panic attacks sometimes. I understand that. She’s been gone a long time. I do worry about her. I told her she’d be fine. That’s why I’m going to try to keep her in the hotel most of the time up until the game because she was in a long time.”

That was then, and this is now. Demaryius’ mom made mistakes had missteps and it affected her son. But his mom’s absence did not annul or absolve his ambitions. He had a good support system in his aunt and uncle who took him in. They gave him strict structure and dogged discipline. And Demaryius has emerged as an All Pro Receiver despite starting out as another all out statistic.

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And of all the storylines in this special Super Bowl 50, this one about the bond that binds a mother and her son, “Bay Bay’s Mom” and Denver’s DT, is as wholesome and as heartwarming as they come.

Can Cam Carry Carolina?

Cam Newton NFL Draft

So who ya got? Who are you picking to win Super Bowl 50? Peyton or Cam? The Broncos or Carolina? Defense or offense? For me, there are a plethora of plots and subplots in this year’s golden goose of a game, the 50th Super Bowl. But unlike any other Super Bowl, this one will be remembered and recalled and ruminated upon for years to come. And, the play of the quarterback, as always, is front and center stage.

And so the question is this: Can Cam carry Carolina?

As stated earlier in this blog and elsewhere, Cam is the hottest thing since sliced bread when it comes to the NFL. When it comes to gloating and floating and doting over the game that took ownership of a day of the week from the institutional church, Roger Goodell is no dumbbell. He may have missed it way right in 2015 with Brady and “Deflategate” and Goodell may have blown it way left in 2014 with the Ray Rice “Incident,” (http://godandsports.net/2014/09/18/roger-goodell-and-the-nfls-week-from-hell/)  but Goodell certainly can tell that Cam can be a bombshell and this William Tell can ignite a groundswell that can define and carry the entire NFL for years to come. And that’s the storyline of this Super Bowl in a nutshell.

As for Cam, he has carried his team thus far. First of all, Cam can carry his own weight. He was drafted No. 1 and he wears No. 1 and he wants to be No. 1, but he will have to get past Peyton first. And if he loses, all of those records and stats and firsts and figures mean nothing. But if Carolina wins it all . . . Sure there might be next year, but next year will be easier to win again if they win right now.

Cam is carrying his team and his teammates and his conference and his city and his race and his religion and everything else that his haters want to dump on him. And he’s carrying them all, with grace. But how does he do it?

Warren Moon described how Cam is carrying all of this so, so well:

First, we had to prove we could play the position,” Moon said. “Then we had to face questions about our leadership abilities. Even when you look at the guys who played the position in my time — myself, Doug Williams, even a Randall Cunningham — we were all laid back. Now it’s more of a ‘me’ generation and you can show more of your personality. It used to be that you had to be more like a politician than a football player to be a black quarterback. Cam plays the game with his personality.

That’s it! That’s absolutely it. Cam is being HIMSELF. He’s playing the game with his personality. Yes many clam that Cam is a ham, but I beg to differ. If you or I had been through half of what this young man has been through, and he went through all of his stuff in the fishbowl of the public spotlight, we may have acted and reacted differently. Cam has set more records and run for more yards and scored more touchdowns and put up more points than you can shake a stick at. And that’s why winning the Super Bowl is so important for him. As if he hasn’t already validated himsellf.

 

So here’s to a great game. I like Peyton Manning. I do. And if he wins, I will be glad for him. Because this Super Bowl is really a “win win.” Cam or Peyton, both are so deserving and so admired and so well-liked that it’s hard not to root for both of them. So, as they say, may the best team, not necessarily the best quarterback, win.

Sports is Colorful and Colorblind: Remembering “Jimmy The Greek” Snyder

Jimmy the Greek On CBS

Anybody remember “Jimmy The Greek” Snyder? If you do, read this and reminisce. If you don’t, just know that he was no “Miss Priss.”

Ever stick your foot in your mouth? I mean the whole boot, shoelaces and all? Well, the late great sportscaster Jimmy The Greek did just that. “The Greek” once made a buffoon of himself by making himself a disgrace. He once went on bumbling and blundering and babbling about how Blacks are better athletes than Whites and Asians and Hispanics and any and all other races because of how they were bred in slavery. Wow. Wait, What?  And the SAD part about the statement is that some hate certain athletes because of their race.

But first, who remembers Jimmy?

Jimmy The Greek was a regular for 12 years on the CBS Sunday morning show, The NFL Today, a pregame show for National Football League (NFL) games. Known simply as “Jimmy the Greek,” he would appear in segments with sportscaster Brent Musburger and predict the results of that week’s NFL games. While already famous in gambling circles, his rough charm made him into a minor celebrity. However, . . .

On January 16, 1988, he was fired by the CBS network (where he had been a regular on NFL Today since 1976) after commenting to WRC-TV reporter Ed Hotaling at Duke Zeibert’s Washington, D.C. restaurant that African Americans were naturally superior athletes at least in part because they had been bred to produce stronger offspring during slavery:

The black is a better athlete to begin with because he’s been bred to be that way, because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs and he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trade … the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid … 

According to the New York Times obituary, Snyder expressed regret for his comments, remarking: “What a foolish thing to say.” His CBS co-workers publicly stated that they did not agree with Snyder’s theories and that they did not oppose CBS’ decision to fire him. Black former NFL player Irv Cross said in the 30 for 30 documentary about Snyder that he worked alongside Jimmy for a long time and didn’t consider him to be a racist at all.

Racism is alive and well in the world, and by association, in the world of sports today as well. But it need not be. Cam Newton is a quarterback, not a BLACK quarterback.  At least that’s the way it should be. Are there white wide receivers and black wide receivers? And is there a difference between the races at every skill position on the field?

Now back to Jimmy the Greek.  What is the lesson to learn from this long lost sports legend? What case has race in the sports workplace? No place! Someplace we have misplaced the knowledge base that sports and athletics are colorblind. Yes sports are colorful. Thank God for the drama and tension and comedy and tragedy and theater and pageantry of sports. And thank God that all of that transcends the color line and breaks the color barrier. Thank God.

We are all human, because we all have some color or some “hue” to us (remember when African Americans were called “colored people?”) We all came from the same God, so that makes us all brothers and sisters. So let’s remember that sports is the great unifier, and that even without sports, we can and should and one day will come together as one, regardless of race, creed or color or ethnic origin. Amen to that.

Cam Newton Spoke Uncomfortable Truth: Race Impacts How He’s Perceived

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camnewton (GodandSports Photo)

Cam Newton was absolutely right this week when he said that race influences how he is perceived.

Do sports fans and others dislike the Carolina Panthers Super Bowl-bound quarterback Cam Newton because he is black?

Some, definitely yes. But that distaste for one of the finest athletes of this generation isn’t about tobacco chewing, confederate flag wavers who wouldn’t like him anyway. The dislike is much more relevant to the fact that institutional racism is alive and well in American life, perhaps no more obviously than in our favorite sport, football.

It was almost 30-years ago, but Pro Football Hall of Fame member Warren Moon wasn’t even drafted when he came out professionally. Told he should try out at cornerback, Moon scoffed at that suggestion, went undrafted and played five seasons in the Canadian Football League before finally transitioning to the NFL at a position he eventually became…

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