Appearances Do Matter, Even In The American Sports Royalty Position!

Posted: September 7, 2011 in NFL

Jerry Richardson owns the Carolina Panthers – he tells Cam Newton “eh, don’t want any piercings, get the tattoo’s outta here…cause you’re my quarterback” Major controversy. The issue of race in North America is always a story. Now you have to remember this – when old rich white southern dude tells a young black quarterback how to look, African Americans are absolutely and have a right to be sensitive. Middle America doesn’t want to hear that, but that’s reality. Old rich white southern dude telling young black  “this is the way I want you to look”….that’s not going to play well. Now, let me take this to a different level – because I think what I just said, we can all figure out.

But for years I’ve been banging on Tony Romo – for those of you who don’t know him, he’s white and is the quarterback of the most famous NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys. Why have I been banging on Tony Romo? His numbers are good, his stats are good, and he’s got one of the Top 5 passer ratings in the history of the game…so why have I been banging on him? cause he wears his hat backwards!  That’s kind of silly right? I don’t bang on running backs for that or wide receivers or even assistant coaches. So why have I been banging on Tony Romo for that? Cause he’s a quarterback.

Quarterback, to me, is American royalty. American royalty in sports use to be the shortstop position in baseball but I believe that it is now the quarterback position in the NFL – where you’re judged differently. When you look at the Dallas Cowboys and think about the richest athlete’s in the U.S. – out side of his sports money, the top 2 names are Michael Jordan and Roger Staubach, former Dallas Cowboy quarterback. Troy Aikman goes from the quarterback position to the #1 analyst for his network.

When you’re the Dallas Cowboy quarterback, you’re not a wide receiver, you’re America’s Team’s quarterback ….look like it! Hat on backwards guy? That’s the tight ends coach. Tony, your better than that! The position demands more. Like I said, quarterback in America is American sports royalty! It’s like the striker position in European soccer. You date the supermodels, you drive a Lamborghini, and you meet the royal family after a big game. That’s what you do when you’re the goal scorer in European soccer. The goalie doesn’t meet royalty, midfielder doesn’t meet royalty, defender doesn’t meet royalty…Wayne Rooney meets royalty.

In the Cam Newton situation, first of all I would assume that most companies have appearance standards, but I’ll give you another example as to why I don’t want us to get too much into race – although I do understand the black community being sensitive when a rich old white southern guy says to a young black athlete “dress this way” I get it!

If you don’t think appearances matter for quarterbacks, who is the one quarterback in the NFL who is pretty good, just got to a conference championship but whom none of us like? Jay Cutler, white as they get! What is it about Jay Cutler that we don’t like? I argue that we just don’t like his appearance! Seems grumpy all the time, disinterested, not enthusiastic, we’ve never once said that about a receiver or a running back. But when it comes to the quarterback position, we make judgments on how you look! The reality is – I have defended Donovan McNabb for years on this, why? Because in controversy’s he sports a big smile, smart, cool hand luke. So in this instance, I understand the black community being sensitive – they have a right to be and a lot of Middle American people saying “well come on! Just don’t wear this or that” You have to understand though, old rich white southern dude telling young black athlete how to dress – you gotta understand this, people are going to be sensitive and they have a right to be.

But when I look at the quarterback position, I don’t look at it like any other position – and I’ll give you an example. My New York Jets just re-signed Antonio Cromartie, 8 kids and 7 women or there about. No problem, he’s a cornerback, nobody cares. Do you think they draft Mark Sanchez, quarterback of the New York Jets – 8 kids and 7 women, hell no! Quarterback position is the only position in this sport where we care about the wonderlic scores. In fact there is now a rule in the NFL – the 26,27,60 rule, where if you have a certain wonderlic score, a certain number of college starts and a certain completion percentage in college, it’s now becoming the “oh, he’s going to be okay”

The quarterback position is just different, I don’t care what my cornerback looks like, I don’t care what my linebackers look like, I don’t care that the entire offensive line for the Pittsburgh Steelers has a scruffy beard. But it does bother me that Big Ben is a mess, didn’t wear a helmet on a motorcycle, had 2 allegations with woman…it bothers me! I don’t lose a day of sleep over a Cowboy running back wearing his hat on backwards; it bothers me when Tony Romo wears it backwards.

You’ve got the corner office; you’re the CEO of the team – whatever that means.  Anybody whose read my rants – I’ve been banging on Tony Romo wearing his hat on backwards for years now. For me, I’ve always seen the quarterback position as American royalty. I’ll give you another example, Andrew Luck. So Andrew Luck is the best quarterback in college right now, he has a big scruffy beard right now and he’s at Stanford, I mean it’s just a complete mess, he looks like a mess. But it’s okay cause it’s college, it’s not paid, like he’s at Stanford, so you really know that he’s not paid. With some college’s I’m not so sure, but at Stanford he’s not paid! I’m okay with him wearing a beard. It’s counter culture, Palo Alto, it’s take your dog to work google territory, flip flops and sandals on Friday, contrarian, Palo Alto techy environment…I’m okay with it.

When Andrew Luck gets to the NFL, beard comes off! Can’t look like a yeti. I’m doing a $100 million dollar ad campaign, you’re the face of my franchise, you’re the leader of the organization…beard comes off, don’t want to see! I don’t care if you’re in conservative Cincinnati – they may get him. I don’t care if you’re in liberal San Francisco…beard comes off!

  1. Mike Crack says:

    I don’t mind Jerry telling Cam to do it. I don’t think it was particularly about race, as most players on the Panthers and the NFL for that matter, black or white have tattoos and a lot have piercings. The fact is, the QB is the face of the franchise, and like any job, there are appearance standards.

    Now is there a chance that Jerry wants to appease the mostly white season ticket holders by having his QB not be “one of those” black guys? Sure. But it’s hard to say that definitively. I wonder if that conversation also isn’t a result of the terrible QB situation the Panthers had with their last 1st round draft pick QB, Kerry Collins, who was out of football for a little while after struggling with alcohol abuse.

    I do think Cam not getting any tattoos or piercings will help him in the long run. I think he’ll end up being a very good if not great QB. He’s already a dynamic qb, has a marketable smile, and if he sports the so-called “clean-cut” look, he can be this decade’s Peyton Manning in terms of dominating commercial breaks.

    Finally, you can point to the New York Yankees, a team with mostly white players who has a no facial hair policy. The fact is, pro sports is a business and like any business/job, the employers can choose how their employees are presented.

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