Oh boy, here it comes.
On the heels of a bunch of people getting their shorts in a twist over what Colin Kaepernick put on his head, another NFL quarterback has admitted — brace yourselves — that he’s still a bit of a fan of the NFL team other than the one he plays for, which happens to be from the city he grew up in.
During a Q and A with D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (who grew up in Atlanta) was asked how difficult it was to play his hometown team.
“It’s always a heavily critiqued game,” Newton replied. “I’ve always been a Falcons fan, and I’m still a Falcons fan except for those two times a year.”
And we’re off.
Newton was growing up during the height of the Michael Vick-led Falcons, and his proximity makes it natural that he’d have a certain attachment. And it’s probably unrealistic to expect that attachment to stop when he got a job.
Newton’s the face of the Panthers franchise, was the first pick in the 2011 draft, and will almost certainly end up becoming (even more) rich thanks to them.
His job is to beat the Falcons. And he’s done his part toward that goal.
The Panthers split with the Falcons last year (losing ridiculously in the Georgia Dome in the last minute), and Newton played some of his best football against them. He completed 64.4 percent of his passes (up from his season mark of 57.7), with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 113.8 rating (86.2 on the year).
It’s not the first time Panthers fans have had to confront such cross-pollination from one of their stars. On the heels of receiving a $72 million contract from the Panthers, defensive end and Georgia-native Charles Johnson was spotted in a club wearing a Falcons hat (though the best part is that he was photographed with Dan Aykroyd, who may have had a drink that night).
A certain segment of the fanbase freaked out about Johnson wearing a hat that matched his outfit, and he told some of them to take a hike on Twitter.
Which was an honest and fair, if not polite, response.
Likewise, anyone who gets lathered up about Newton’s words needs to take a step back from their allegiance to the team for a second, and remember that the people inside the laundry mostly come from other places, existed as human beings before being drafted, and will continue to when their careers end.