The Seahawks, in fact, already have their own version of Newton; his name is Richard Sherman — brash, misunderstood, disliked from outside but beloved within.

Share story

Seahawks fans — or at least that portion of whom are prominent on social media — have so many vendettas going on against Cam Newton, it’s hard to keep them straight.

Between the petitions, open letters and various other outpourings of righteous indignation, animal-rights activists should be concerned about too much weight on the high horse.

When I took this job, I made a vow never to tell fans what to do or think. That’s the height of presumption; people can attend, root and disapprove in any fashion they like. Certainly, Seahawks fans long ago showed their faith and passion beyond a shadow of a doubt.

But I reserve the right to react and express my opinion, which is this: The whiners are giving the hardcore 12s a bad name.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

Newton obviously is a lightning rod of controversy that is not limited to residents of Seahawks Nation. But the grievances that have been aired have a faintly familiar ring to me. We’ve heard most of them, from afar, about various members of the Seahawks.

If you really think about it, Seahawks fans should love Cam Newton. In fact, I have little doubt they would if he were playing for their team, which has become the embodiment of brash, bold showmanship. It’s why so many others dislike the Seahawks — hostility in which most 12s revel.

The Seahawks, in fact, already have their own version of Newton; his name is Richard Sherman — brash, misunderstood, disliked from outside but beloved within.

Could I imagine Sherman being handed an opponent’s flag after a huge victory and tossing it triumphantly (and dismissively), as Newton did to so much apparent outrage from 12s? Well, yes, I can. He already has shown he can get a bit excitable in the immediate aftermath of clinching a Super Bowl berth.

That infamous diatribe in the postgame interview with Erin Andrews earned Sherman considerable ire from around the country. Combined with other incidents (“You mad, bro?”), Sherman has been branded by many observers as an arrogant hot dog.

But you know what? Seahawks fans have come to learn that at his core, Sherman is none of those things. He is intelligent, thoughtful, well-meaning. And I’d bet that Panthers fans don’t have a big problem with Newton and his dancing, touchdown-celebrating, sideline-photo-taking antics — especially when he’s leading them to the Super Bowl.

Had a Seahawk player done any of those things, my hunch is their fans would have found a way to interpret it as endearing. Because that’s what fans do. When Doug Baldwin pretends to defecate the football after a Super Bowl touchdown (for which he later apologized) or Marshawn Lynch grabs his crotch after a touchdown, it didn’t seem to lessen their popularity around here.

That kind of stuff is “colorful” and “heat of the moment” when your guy is doing it.

When Newton did his “dab” dance against Tennessee, Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey expressed his disapproval to reporters: “I think that’s a little rub-it-in-your-face type of deal, and there is a little code of ethics in the NFL and not a good move.”

Yes, heaven forbid a player should have a little fun. You never see that from other players after a touchdown or sack. … Oh, wait, you do. But apparently there is a right and wrong way for a quarterback to celebrate.

This whole issue sounds familiar to me. It reminds me of the folks who are outraged by baseball players who have the audacity to show what is deemed excessive emotion after a home run or big strikeout.

In baseball, it’s reflected in nostalgia for “old-school’’ ways. In football, the outrage seems to be currently focused on one player, Newton, who has been deemed by some as behaving in a fashion unbecoming to the exalted position of quarterback.

Former NFL player Brian Urlacher expressed that point of view nicely this week with this comment to USA Today, comparing Newton with his Super Bowl counterpart, Peyton Manning: “I played defense, so I don’t like when guys celebrate with dances and stuff. You know who I like the way he celebrates is Peyton. He kind of gives the guy a handshake and goes back to the sidelines. I think that’s a great celebration right there. You don’t see him dancing. You don’t see him doing all that stuff. Even when he gets a first down he doesn’t do anything.”

Is there a racial aspect to the Newton backlash? Newton alluded to such when he said this week, “I’ve said this since Day One. I’m an African-American quarterback that scares people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.”

It would be highly naïve to think race didn’t influence some of his critics, but it’s certainly possible to dislike Newton on other grounds. He can come off as arrogant or moody in a way that is off-putting if he isn’t scoring touchdowns for you.

Yet I’ve also seen him show kindness beyond the call of duty to youngsters, and he has been known to make hospital visits and engage in numerous charitable causes. Likability is in the eye of the beholder — something Seahawks fans should know more than anyone.

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.