Folks, it looks like the Panthers are going to be next team to step up to the plate and make a tragic mistake. They're going to gamble on a quarterback, and the one they are focused on is not a good gamble. I feel bad for my buddy Eric. We've been talking football for four years now, and he is a big Panther fan. Last year, I went through this hell, but it was nothing compared to what he's going through now.
So why am I down on Newton? Setting aside the fact that his daddy is a deliverance pastor who asks for college bribe money, setting aside the cheating on tests at Florida, setting aside the stolen laptop, setting aside the bailout from Florida just ahead of the posse, setting aside the one-year wonder thing at Auburn, setting aside the bailout from Auburn just ahead of the posse, forgetting about both entertainers and icons, dismissing the 21 on the Wonderlic, we still have to deal with the Gruden thing.
Jon Gruden has reprised his lovely role in ESPN's quarterback-shakedown series this year, and Newton was the most recent kid to show up on the show. It did not look good to me folks. Boggies were showing up on my radar. Mike Florio put it succinctly when he said "Newton comes to the NFL with zero knowledge or experience regarding the way that offensive plays are constructed and called"
Folks, it ain't often that Mike Florio and I see eye-to-eye. We do this time. His conclusion is the logical one based on the evidence we saw. I saw a guy who was painfully uncomfortable with the entire situation, and painfully trying to smile his way past the agony of it. That's not good. My hair was on fire during that segment. If you compare and contrast that to the cool/easy competence that Blaine Gabbert showed in Moochie's "Game Changers" chalk-talk, we're talking about a led vs. gold comparison here.
Mel Kiper Jr. recently said that Clausen's appearance on Gruden's show last year damaged his stock, and promoted his slide. Folks, Clausen did a much better job in his Gruden interview than Newton did. My hair wasn't on fire during the Clausen segment. It was during the Newton interview. I think this one ranks at the tops of my "Politically Damaging" pre-draft events.
I'm not saying I'm sold on Gabbert as the top pick in the draft, but if you have determined that QB is your greatest need, you would be suicidal to select Newton ahead of Gabbert. You are certifiable if you make that choice.
This is reflected the most recent series of Scouts Inc Top 32 rankings. Gabbert is headed north. Newton is headed south. Gabbert was ranked at #8, he is now at #5, although his score of 96 has not changed. Newton's score has dropped by single point (from 94 to 93), and he has now slid from #12 to #16. This is Gruden's work for sure. Gabbert is probably rising because he acquitted himself very well on "Game Changers" and Gruden's show.
Nevertheless, the Panthers are signalling that they are preparing to make a tragic mistake. Just about all Mock drafts published recently reflect their signals, showing Newton as the #1 pick. Against all reason, they are preparing to fuck themselves in the ass. It's going to cost them 5 lost years folks.
Highly respected voices on NFL Path to the draft support this move. Guys like Charles Davis and Bucky Brooks defend this move, offering feeble justifications for it. "You have to take a chance on Greatness." "Playing it safe with this pick will just land them right back in this same spot next year."
I know why.
In boxing, it used to be common to use a term called "The Great White Hope". The term reflected White America's desperate craving to see a white guy reclaim the heavy weight championship of Boxing. Each time an untalented white dude would emerge in the heavy weight ranks, he would become the focus of tremendous marketing hype. A guy who was not really a contender became a contender. We knew he didn't have the stuff to defeat Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield, but he got the hype anyway.
The same phenomenon exists in Black America vis-a-vis NFL Quarterbacks. Black America desperately craves a great NFL Quarterback. What do we mean by great? A multi-time Super Bowl champion powering a dynasty, and a QB ranked at the top of the efficiency charts. The last great Black hope was Donovan McNabb, but with Donovan's career in limbo, someone else must fill the void. Newton is the 'born at the right time' guy who seems to have captured Black America's imagination, despite the fact that Michael Vick is much closer to the goal. Guys like Davis and Brooks seem so infatuated with Newton's physical prowess, that they are overlooking clear yellow & red flags. Davis and Brooks never do that under ordinary circumstances. They aren't doing that with Ryan Mallet who also has red-flags.
An unbiased observer can tell that this guy doesn't have what it takes to handle Ali, Holmes, Tyson or Holyfield (read: Manning, Brady, Brees, Rodgers, or even Vick) but he is getting the hype anyway.
I am sure you can capitalize on this hype in the short run. This hype can and will sell a lot of tickets at the box office. If this is the only goal the Panthers have in hand at the moment, they can succeed. For those who want to win? Well... uhhhhmmm... Maybe, maybe not.
Charley Casserly recently said "I could have 25 shots at drafting Cam Newton and I would pass on him 25 times."
Consider this well before you make a mistake.
Hallelujah! I am sure glad my Rams don't need a QB this year. It is just so damn good not to need a QB in the 2011 NFL Draft! I can hardly describe to you how good it is not to need a QB this time around. I tell you, Billy Devaney's 2010 call is looking better and better all the time.