If you love Cam Newton or if you hate Cam Newton, there is no denying that Cam Newton is exceptionally good at playing football. He is the best player and undeniable leader of the team with the best record in the NFL. His dynamic combination of size, speed, and passing ability is unmatched. He will probably be the NFL's MVP, and if the Panthers win the Super Bowl, he will be the Super Bowl's MVP.
This is funny, because back in 2011, some people were adamant that it would never happen. Newton played only one season at Auburn, and it was one of the most brilliant seasons in college football history. Cam Newton at Auburn was like Mario with all of his power-ups simultaneously: He was bigger than everybody else, he could throw fire, and any opponent who touched him fell off the screen and died.
But the blazing glory of his on-field play helped spark a flaming off-field controversy around the semi-legal way by which he came to play at Auburn. And those off-field issues fueled some of the most garbage, scorchingly bad sports takes in the history of bad sports takes.
It is our great privilege to link to the masterpiece that is a Bleacher Report piece entitled "Cam Newton: Why Carolina Panthers' New QB is the Worst NFL Draft Pick Ever." The glaringly wrong proclamation of the author should permanently scare us away from hyperbole, but I'll do it anyway: This is the worst sports take of all time.
Cam Newton is a sure-fire bust. I am so certain of this that if he is the Panthers' starting quarterback in 2016, I will buy a Cam Newton jersey and stand in the stadium parking lot in my underwear when the Panthers come to Tampa Bay and hold a sign proclaiming that Auburn rules over Florida and Carolina rules over Tampa Bay...
Let's ask Denver Broncos fans if they would like to trade [Tim] Tebow for Newton straight up. They would laugh in your face. Football fans know even if the experts have no clue. We can spot a fraud when we see one.
In five years, when Tebow is leading Denver into the playoffs and Cam Newton is riding someone's bench, remember this article.
The post harps on Newton's character, saying that he's "no braniac," has "no credibility." The same author wrote a list of five reasons why Newton wasn't worth a top-5 pick before the draft, with two of the reasons being "lack of character" and "lack of intelligence."
It's beautiful to read words this deliciously wrong. It's just so unbelievably beautiful. Not only was the general premise wrong and stupid, the piece makes bold predictions that are wrong in breathtaking, ironic ways. It is five years later, and bust Cam Newton is playing Denver in the Super Bowl while Tim Tebow works for the SEC Network. It's gloriously crafted incorrectness, the type mere mortals couldn't replicate if we tried.
Nolan Nawrocki became famous for his acerbic breakdowns of NFL draft prospects. None was more vicious than his scouting report of Newton, a blistering character attack.
Very disingenuous. Has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. 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. Does not command respect from teammates and always will struggle to win a locker room. Only a one-year producer. Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness. Is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable.
With 20-20 hindsight, it's obvious the "Cam Newton is going to be bad because he is a bad person" was off by a bit. But it would be dishonest for us to act as if there wasn't reason to be skeptical of Newton's NFL future back in 2011. He had obvious talent, but there were legitimate concerns.
Newton's throwing motion wasn't perfect, according to folks who understand what perfect throwing motions look like. He'd taken most of his snaps out of the shotgun, and struggled at dropping back to pass. College defenses had focused so much effort on stopping Newton's running, he rarely faced complex coverages. The majority of Newton's completions on tape were to very open receivers, so there wasn't a lot of evidence he could fit balls in windows and make difficult throws.
Teams had reason to worry. Newton was amazing against college defenses, but professional opponents would prove more stout. What would Newton look like if he couldn't bully his way to touchdown after touchdown? If NFL defenses made him change his playing style, could he?
Perhaps most frightening, Newton had only played one full year in college. That meant there wasn't a ton of tape on Newton. That meant NFL scouts had no way of ensuring Newton could consistently replicate his success. NFL scouts like to be sure of things. It's understandable why some might have felt there wasn't enough substance from Newton's pre-draft career to safely project into the future.
Cam Newton was the ultimate boom-or-bust prospect. He had all the blocks from which a potential NFL MVP could be built, but there was also a chance his game wouldn't translate. There really wasn't a world in which Newton turned out to be a mediocre quarterback. He was either going to be a superstar or a failure. Of course, Newton boomed rather than busting.
So why bring up the reasons NFL teams might have worried about Newton five years ago now? Because it's worth noting that the authors of the trash Cam Newton takes of yore generally bypassed the actual reasons Newton might fail so they could sling their trash Cam Newton takes. They banked on our stupidity and racism, assuming we'd accept their baseless BS.
I bring this up so we can let the awful sports opinions of 2011 be our guide to navigating the sports opinion wilderness of 2016.
It's possible to be wrong while analyzing sports. Sports are incredibly multifaceted games that end with one team winning and one team losing. No matter how hard you try to predict it, you'll be wrong a lot of the time.
Analysis can be right or wrong, and it doesn't necessarily disprove the validity of the reasoning for the analysis. Take, for example, the debate over Washington's QB situation this year. I didn't think Kirk Cousins would be a good quarterback in 2015 because his first three seasons revealed he threw a lot of interceptions in relatively little playing time. I was wrong! I was very wrong. Cousins learned how to stop throwing picks and led Washington to a .500 record and the playoffs. But I stand by my thinking that Cousins' previous interception-prone seasons would lead to an interception-prone year.
Conversely, I don't think you can be right if you never attempt to actually earnestly analyze a situation.
There's a man on TV who yells about how LeBron James isn't clutch. Being "not clutch" most likely isn't a thing, and even if it was, it wouldn't apply to LeBron James, who has hit a lot of clutch shots in his basketball career. But sometimes LeBron James misses clutch shots, and he gets on TV and giddily skips around, barking like a hound that's chased its prey up a tree. Sometimes LeBron James drills clutch shots, causing him to bay less.
Is that guy right when LeBron misses shots? It's less a matter of James' clutchness or nonclutchness, and more a matter of the fact that sometimes basketballs go in hoops and sometimes they don't.
People who argued Newton would bust because of his character and intelligence were catastrophically wrong. If anything, his charismatic personality has made him a more effective leader of a team that seems to accept and cherish his swag.
But if they were "right," I doubt they would've actually been right. People who argued Newton would fail didn't have legitimate arguments. They intentionally ignored reasons to worry about Newton's future success to spread super-wrong garbage.
They were calamitously wrong, so laugh at how wrong they were. But let's not acknowledge they're right when the circumstance they predicted actually does come to pass. We don't look at broken clocks for the time, and we shouldn't trust Trash Sports Takes for actual analysis, even if they are right twice a day.
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Super Bowl 50: Panthers players impersonate Cam
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