Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cam Newton, Jerry Richardson and tattoos

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson appeared on Charlie Rose's excellent talk show this week, discussing a number of topics from the end of the NFL lockout to whether Charlotte was ready for a Super Bowl (not yet because it doesn't have enough hotel rooms, he said) to Charlotte's hosting of the Democratic National Convention (Richardson said he was "sure" that President Obama would give his speech at the DNC in Bank of America Stadium).

What has attracted the most notice, however, was Richardson retelling the story on the show (which can be seen in its entirety here) of how he had a conversation with No.1 draft pick Cam Newton several months ago (about three weeks before the Panthers wound up picking Newton). He told Newton then he liked the fact that Newton had no piercings or tattoos and basically that he hoped Newton would keep that clean look.

My colleague Tom Sorensen wrote about this very conversation three months ago in a column, but that one didn't go national.

This time it did with the help of Rose's show and also the influential sports blog ProFootballTalk.com, in which Mike Florio called Richardson's words to Newton "troubling" and "heavy-handed."

Of course, Richardson has employed the heavily tattooed Steve Smith for years as one of the team's best players. His team signed the even more heavily tattooed Jeremy Shockey in the offseason. I'd venture a guess that well over half the Panthers' players have ink on their bodies somewhere.

Not Newton, though. And Richardson likes that. OK, so what? If Newton gets a tattoo or comes back next offseason with both ears pierced, do you think Richardson is going to fire him?

Of course not. Newton's performance will be graded on the field, as it should be. It's Richardson's right to like the "clean" look. It is also Newton's right to do whatever he wants to with his body, as long as it's legal.

I don't find Richardson's actions out of bounds here. He simply expressed an opinion to Newton, the same one that I will probably express to any of my four children the first time one of them asks to get some sort of tattoo or piercing.

I won't like it and I won't pay for it and I would tell them that. But if they are 18 or older, it's their body, and I'm not going to disown them for it.

Newton can ink himself up like Dennis Rodman and still be beloved if he can get the Panthers to the playoffs. Or he can do everything exactly right off the field during his rookie year, go 1-9 as a starter and be constantly derided by fans (that previous sentence describes Jimmy Clausen).

Bottom line: The NFL is about winning, not about ink. The far more notable story about the Panthers Wednesday concerned linebacker Jon Beason's sudden surgery for Achilles tendinitis.

That could definitely be "troubling."

This isn't.

39 comments:

Go away Jerry said...

Then why did our moronic owner say it?

Anonymous said...

I'll bet Jerry doesn't like dreadlocks either.

Anonymous said...

March madness the announcers for a game between UNC and maybe Butler (?) brought up the tattoo issue. The announcer (who I have forgotten) said that there was quite a contrast between the tattoos on the opposing team and those on the UNC players. No one called him heavy handed and I can't even recall his name. It's a personal preference and no one should be put down for having one!

Anonymous said...

Richardson: "Did you get crazy after the draft and go out and get any tattoos or piercings? Do I have to check you for anything?"

"No sir," said Newton.

David M said...

Jerry's thinly veiled racism is on full display once again. What a complete embarrassment to Charlotte and the Carolinas.

Anonymous said...

since when did liking or not liking tattoos become grounds to label someone a racist? its a given the press will try and play that angle but only because so many of you people allow them to do your thinking for you.

Anonymous said...

That's why we'll never have a winning franchise in this city. That slave-like mentality of Jerry Richardson (I won't dignify him by calling him Mr. Richardson). Once Bill Polian left I knew there wasn no hope for that "klan".

Anonymous said...

It's not racism! It's called being from the old school. Cam's own father told him to cut his hair! Tattoos and long hair were not acceptable to people in Jerry's generation, black or white. If you can't reason with why people say things that differ from your own opinion keep your hands off the keyboard before you call someone a racist who clearly is not. How many owner's have a black starting QB and a Latino for a head coach? 1...JR.

Whitey Guy said...

Why drag racism into this? I'm not quite as old school as Jerry and I'm proud to say none of my 3 sons have tatoos. I'd be disappointed if they did. I read a 2 yr old GQ article just yesterday about how if someone wants to stand out now as a real individual, you'd be clean. Instead of proclaiming your individuality, tatoos now say I want to be part of the crowd.

U.R. Stereotyping said...

"Thinly veiled racism. Slave-like mentality". Boy, some of you guys are idiots. Please stay away from here with your ignorance.

Anonymous said...

In a polite way Jerry expressed his opinion. Cam would be smart to stay away from Large tattoo's covering his body. Why, because he is money in the bank for large companies and that translates to $$$

Anonymous said...

I am Black before I start. Let me say this Jerry really gave Cam some good advice. It will help him in the area of marketing. Let's face it, endorsements are were it's at. Also, most professionals don't go into there offices with their tats showing and ears pierced. It is what it is...Professional

Anonymous said...

Good call Richardson.

Next move is to unload Scam Newton though and get a real QB

That will get rid of all the trouble with his idiot dumb fans who dont their butts from a hole in the ground

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TFTC said...

The fact that people are making this a race issue is beyond me. Mr. Richardson is running a business with the Carolina Panthers. And by taking Cam with the first pick, Jerry essentially placed the future of his business in Cam's hands. You can call Jerry racist all you want for trying to keep his poster-child as professional looking as possible, but it's more old school than it is anything. Regardless of how unrealistic this is, he wants the public to look at the Panthers in the same way that they do the Colts, not the Oakland Raiders. He wants a Peyton Manning, not a JaMarcus Russell (No racist). The Colts are methodical and will beat you the old fashioned way, and that's exactly the type of standard that Richardson and Rivera are setting up in Charlotte. Jerry is as old school of an owner as they come, and regardless of how relentless people are in trying to paint him as a terrible owner, he's the sole reason that the Carolina's have a NFL team to begin with.

tony said...

"Slave like mentality"? Are you serious? This guy is being paid 22 million by J.R. and there are still morons on this board pulling the race card. If this was true why would he draft him in the first place

Anonymous said...

My employer doesn't like tattoos either and is very blatant about this. You know what, as long as I am paid by them I oblige with company policy. Jerry Richardson is spot on.

will said...

Tattoos=Ignorance. The more tattoo's the more ignorant and lower IQ. Give em Mell Jerry!

Anonymous said...

These days not having a tat makes one unique. Tats are for brainless sheep. Nice going Cam.

Anonymous said...

"The more tattoo's the more ignorant and lower IQ." That is pretty funny. Sadly, I doubt that "will" will pick up on the irony.

2timer said...

TFTC-
We have been playing football for 16 years! How long is he supposed to be "setting things up"?

Anonymous said...

Another day, another Cam article. Last time I checked, football was a TEAM sport - so why are you guys continuing this myopic love affair with one person, however high profile? Maybe a few articles on the REST OF THE TEAM might just be newsworthy? Nah... that'd be too much work, right?

Anonymous said...

Clausen Anderson or Pike have no tattoes, no piercings and no dredlocks plus never been in any trouble and finished out their careers at one college.
All 3 were excel QBs at Notre Dame Oregon state and U Ohio Cincinatti. Anderson was All Pro.

Cant blame Jer for being pissed after all the BS he has taken from worthless non-fans for yrs and shells out 400 million plus the sleezy union strike extortion billions racket ripoff.

Give em hell Jerry. Dont take any more crap off these losers. Real fans behind you 100% with nth no agenda like the media rats.

Anonymous said...

One has to understand that Jerry Richardson grew up and played in a different age than todays players. He's "old school" and that's o.k. He's just expressing his opinion on tattoos. Some people like them and some don't, so what? I don't care for them either. What's wrong with keeping your body the way God created it? Tattoos have become a fad just like many other things. They are acquired for many different reasons, some good, others not so good. The sad part in our society is that many people who are jobless, on unemployment, or just too lazy to work will somehow come up with the the funds to cover their bodies with tatoos, as well as buy their beer, drugs, partying, etc. while their children go without. As the old saying goes, "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything".

Anonymous said...

I'm younger than Jerry by a couple of decades, but back when I was young, tattoos were rarely seen, and usually worn by what was known then as "trash". Piercings by males were non-existent. This is the image most older people have of "tats and piercings". It sort of reflects the culture of today, which really is junk compared to what it once was. We are bankrupt in more ways than one as a country now.

Anonymous said...

As long as he doesn't have a face tattoo like Mike Tyson I don't see a problem with it. What is he going to ask Cam next, can you bleach your skin so you can be a little lighter. I think he crossed the line about the tattoo.

Anonymous said...

Jerry Richardson is an abolsute embarrassment to Charlotte. From pushing ahead of other heart transplant patients due to his money, belittling two future HOF players in Manning and Brees, and now this. He needs to be sucking Ensure through a straw at a rest home or Broughton.

Anonymous said...

If you want to work for the bossman, he has the right to tell you how he wants you to dress and act while in his employment. He is paying you all those millions of dollars and he is your bossman. After you no longer work for that bossman, you can do anything you like. What's the problem with that way of thinking?

Anonymous said...

"Jerry Richardson is an abolsute embarrassment to Charlotte"

Richardson is KING. You are nothing but filthy low life peasant slime poisoning good oxygen on earth for the rest of humanity.

Anonymous said...

(I'm Black and proud (from Virginia) Jerry did a good thing. If I'm starting a franchise in this part of the country, and I'm considering drafting the face of my franchise, I'd want him to be a clean cut guy. Newton will have to face enough cultural criticism without bringing the image of the negatives of culture. He'll have more appeal and marketablility if he's clean cut. Sure Under Armour likes rough and tough, but NASCAR, the Today Show, and even ESPN wants "professional" looking men to be the image they portray. Fair or not. I mean look at the guys on these boards already labeling him a lazy crook who feels "entitled" to stardom. Love that entitlement word. :{

Anonymous said...

When I read it I thought Jerry was joking around with Newton simply because look around and those guys are always wearing earrings and tattoos up and down their arms. Of course they have to take the jewelry off to play but a lot like their bling.
People need to lighten up.

Jerry isn't racist because my understanding is when he was head of whatever restaurant he was back in the day --he discovered racism going on in a Calif. restaurant.

People need to stop with the lies about anyone in this life because they may not like a person or whatever their problem is.

Mark... said...

Sorry, I am glad Jerry said something to him. My father said the SAME thing to me. I said the same thing to my nephews. Do I think it was racist? Nope. I would want the main face of my franchise to be clean cut too. Wholesome like a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. I think Brady has some ink if I am not mistaken. Jerry is old school and wants to present a good image for this man so that he can win over the fans as a clean cut respectable man. More men need to do the same regardless of race.

Mr Crowder said...

We have some of the most moronic fans. Labeling an owner racist because he does not like tattoos or piercings, yet he just made three of his black players the highest paid at their positions. THAT SOB!!! If you are one of the people that say he is racist please do everyone a favor and jump off a bridge and be sure not to spread your ignorance through children....

John said...

Racism will continue to exist so long as blacks assume that any criticism by a white person to a black person constitutes racism!

Whites, as with all people are fully capable of disagreeing with policies or behavior without demonizing the person we disagree with. That not all choose to do so, is an individual choice for which they alone are responsible.

Anonymous said...

Its the "we vs them" ignorant racist mentality con. If you criticize one of us then you criticize all of us BS lie.

If you didnt vote for Obama you are a racist.

If you dont like sleezy Newton you are a racist.

etc etc ..

IDIOTS.

Pure ignorance. Couldnt be furthur from the truth. Inferiority complex to the max.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jerry for speaking your mind on a sensitive subject. I tell my children all the time about being a leader and not following other peoples mistakes. Tatoos and ear piercing have always been around. In the 70'-80's guys who pierced their left ear were classified as "sissys, fags, etc." because only women would appear in public wearing earrings. In the 90's-2000 guys who are in a gang (bloods, crips, etc.) or in prison wore 2 earrings to signify their gang affiliation and young men have copied that trend today (thugish) as a fashion statement. Parents please tell your children the facts and why they should not try to immitate the urban thugish behavior associated with gangs and prison life. If a man wears 2 earrings in prison he is somebody's "wife" in prison. That is a fact.

digal704 said...

Scott you said you would tell your children the same thing. However, Mr Richardson isn't Mr Newton's father.