Don’t believe me? I can give you three reasons why the Seahawks’ upcoming playoff opponent is worth a hefty dose of your spiteful venom. And it all starts with the quarterback…
1. Cam Newton’s fake perma-smile
Cam Newton is to football what Alex Rodriguez is to baseball. Like A-Rod, Newton is a talented superstar. Like A-Rod, Newton has ventured into his share of controversy in the past. Like A-Rod, Newton feigns obliviousness to the public’s perception of him. And like A-Rod, Newton seems to be among the most genuinely disingenuous personas in all of sports.
Those latter two points are perhaps the most telling when it comes to the relationship between Newton and Rodriguez. Any athlete can be a star, and any athlete can get into some trouble. But it’s the way in which an athlete acts in response to both fame and transgression that tells the story of his character. And if Newton and Rodriguez share any physical trait that binds them, it’s the stupid fake smile.
Remember back in the day when fans the world around – Seattle excluded – thought A-Rod was some kind of saint? He’s so talented! He’s so polite! He’s so cute! Bullshit, all of it.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we knew better. Anyone who can lie to an entire fan base one minute then unceremoniously leave town a minute later cannot be trusted. We knew A-Rod was shade, personified. We knew he was a sketchy ne’er-do-well. The general public wouldn’t find out until some years later, of course. But here in our corner of the globe we were keen to Rodriguez’s schemes. We knew that shit-eating grin he flashed was hiding something. Ultimately, we were right.
Newton possesses that very same grin. It’s a grin that communicates many things, none moreso than deceit. Behind that grin is a man who knows you loathe him. Behind that grin is a man who knows you have good reason to loathe him. Behind that grin is a man certain he’s only grinning to hide a deep-rooted desire to punch you square in the sternum. Behind that grin is a man who is polished in conveying innocence. And above all, behind that grin is a fraud.
Newton, like Rodriguez, is more brand than human being at this point. Both have cultivated their actions, their words, and their respective vibes in accordance with a shared hyperawareness of their images. They fear failure. They fear not being accepted. They fear fans finding out who they really are. So they’ve jettisoned every human characteristic they once possessed in favor of a charred vanilla soul.
You should start despising Cam Newton right now. If for no other reason than because he, like Alex Rodriguez before him, will almost certainly give everyone reason to despise him later on. Just wait for it.
2. Ron Rivera’s transition lenses
Transition lenses are the worst. I, myself, require corrective eyewear. My day-to-day preference is contacts, but I’ll occasionally sport glasses. When I do wear glasses, however, at no point do the lenses in those frames change hue.
I want to be in control of my eyesight. Transition lenses absolve their wearer of control. As soon as the sun brightens, one’s transition lenses go dark. Once the sun goes into hiding, those same transition lenses return to pure clarity. On a partly-cloudy day in Seattle, transition lenses might break from all the shit they have to go through. Sun out: dark. Sun behind a cloud: light. Sun back out: dark. Back behind a cloud: light. I just want to be able see consistently. Transition lenses work to prevent that.
Ron Rivera, it seems, doesn’t agree with me on the tenets of vision. The Panthers’ head coach – who bears a strong resemblance to veteran character actor Art LaFleur, I might add – is known for wearing transition lenses on the sideline. In addition to waging a constant war with the unpredictability of mother nature, Rivera looks goofy as hell in his part-time shades. You know what wouldn’t look goofy as hell? Regular lenses. Or sunglasses. Or even contacts. Maybe just pick one of those instead of trying to catch everything in one crap-filled bucket.
Transition lenses are the reversible shorts you had in middle school or the two-in-one overshirt-undershirt combo hanging on the clearance rack at J.C. Penney. No one in their right mind likes any of this junk. I don’t want my undershirt attached to my overshirt. That’s weird. By the same token, I don’t want people to think I’m a lazy degenerate who simply turned yesterday’s gym shorts inside-out because he didn’t want to do laundry. So why, then, would I want a single pair of glasses to act as both indoor and outdoor eyewear?
It’s stupid. Transition lenses are stupid. Ron Rivera is stupid for wearing transition lenses. Everyone should boo him. Let’s do it on Saturday.
3. Carolina’s fantasy-killing running backs
We’ve all been cursed by Carolina’s running backs. DeAngelo Williams. Jonathan Stewart. Even Mike “Oh look, there’s a cheeseburger” Tolbert. Anyone who has spent a multitude of years dabbling in fantasy football knows all about the Panthers’ holy triumvirate of despair. You rolled the dice on one of these guys once upon a time. And more than likely, you got burned.
In Stewart and Williams, Carolina has what it considers to be a pair of “feature backs.” Neither of these “feature backs” has ever amounted to stardom, though. Both have been just good enough to warrant a split timeshare in the Panthers’ backfield. And as a result, both have simultaneously earned roster spots on the benches of fantasy teams everywhere.
Then there’s Tolbert, who only shows up for all the glory, hogging goal-line carries for touchdowns after the “feature backs” do all the work. It’s hardly fair. You could pluck patrons straight from the frozen yogurt line at Old Country Buffet to do Tolbert’s job, but by all means, let’s keep rolling out a one-trick pony to steal fantasy points from all of America.
Whether you’ve been forced to play one of these backs on your squad or were unfortunate enough to play against them during their one decent week each year, they’ve screwed us all. Never forget.