Dunlap: Cam Newton Situation Exposes Ugly Truth

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – I’m going to go ahead with some generalizations — I feel comfortable enough doing so.

I have been in enough locker rooms, I can read people well enough, I get the way the PR game is played — I’m going to push forward with a few generalizations.

Here we go…

For the most part, many professional athletes see reporters as a necessary evil. They view them — especially in this age where athletes can control their own message on social media platforms — as crotchety and curmudgeonly beings who they never in a million years would associate with outside of a contrived arrangement wherein it serves to help grow the profile, image and visibility of said athlete or the team they are on.

Again, that isn’t every athlete, I’m generalizing here, but plenty of them wouldn’t have the time of day for you if it wasn’t for some mandated, part-of-the-protocol media session where they have to be available.

To them, reporter sessions are like going to the dentist for a checkup — just something they have to do and, truth be told, they hate it.

To be sure, there are exceptions. And big ones. I will use a few locally. Ramon Foster quickly comes to mind – he is the paramount example of an athlete who is sincere when he talks to you, who genuinely cares about you and doesn’t view you as a prop. I haven’t met many men (let alone football players) as wonderful as Ramon.

Andrew McCutchen — same thing. Neil Walker when he played here (and still to this day), same way, along with Jordy Mercer.

Josh Harrison, Trevor Williams, Cameron Heyward, Ian Cole, Sidney Crosby and Matt Murray all fit this bill as well. Marc-Andre Fleury was like this, too — but as you know, he’s in Las Vegas now. He was a true gem.

What am I getting at here?

In my opinion, the arrogant, entitled and haughty way many professional athletes carry themselves had just as much — if not more — to do with the recent firestorm Cam Newton created. You know what happened by now, as on Wednesday Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer asked the Carolina Panthers quarterback a question about a wide receiver liking the physicality of routes.

Newton responded with: “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes.”

Was this sexist? Maybe. That’s for you to decide and, truthfully, only Newton knows if it was meant that way.

You know what this whole thing is most likely rooted in, in my opinion? That whole how-dare-you-ask-me-something-like-that attitude that is prevalent with professional athletes because, and there’s no other way to put it, they don’t feel as if they should ever be questioned by someone who hasn’t achieved the same athletic heights as they have.

To me, that’s the reality with many of today’s athletes — they have an unwillingness to want to get into the least bit of technical talk with a reporter and, God forbid, anything critical.

Much of this comes about because (again, my opinion) many of today’s top-end athletes haven’t heard the word “no” much in their lives. They are headed for stardom at an earlier age now, told they are the greatest from seemingly the time they are 8, surrounded by enablers and handlers who will do whatever to ensure that they also cash in. All that said, the athlete is insulated and isolated from negativity and spoon-fed heaping helpings of “you are the greatest” kinda stuff from a bunch of angles.

So to push it forward even further, they have an inability (or even unwillingness) to deal with any strife or anything they reckon as unnecessary or, well, what is perceived to be beneath them. They can’t just graciously handle a situation that might not be ideal to them.

For some reason, known only to him, that situation for Cam Newton was being asked about routes by a female reporter.

Cam Newton just didn’t want to hear it.

Was it sexism? Again, I don’t know.

What I do know is this: I am firmly convinced it truly all stems from a guy like Newton thinking reporters aren’t qualified, or capable, of talking football with him. To him, reporters are just the common man and he’s a million miles above that.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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