Saturday, November 27, 2010

More on Cameron Newton

Isaac Newton’s Law of Gravitation holds that every massive particle of the universe attracts every other massive particle. To state it another way, or according to Cam Newton (no relation), “When God be blessin’, the devil be messin’.”

For perhaps the most gifted quarterback to come out of the NFL farm system in a decade, both of these principles mean that success breeds a flurry of rumor mongerers, two-bit accusers looking for their five minutes of fame, and former coaches with axes to grind all intent on bringing down the latest star in the mythically pristine world of college athletics. And one other unlikely culprit: the vaunted New York Times.

It was the Times that first published the attack piece on Maurice Clarett in the off season after Clarett helped Ohio State win the National Championship. It was this article that snowballed into the NCAA investigation, culminating in Clarett’s suspension from Buckeyes football, his need to try to enter the NFL early, and his ultimate downfall. In that article, the Times was outraged that freshman Clarett was allowed to retake a midterm when his African American history professor insisted that he do more than skate through classes without learning the material.

Six months ago, the Times wrote no less than three major articles exploring whether Kentucky basketballer and first round draft pick Eric Bledsoe had really deserved a good grade in his Birmingham, Alabama high school Algebra II class. This article also prompted an NCAA investigation as well as one conducted and paid for by the Birmingham School Board, both of which cleared Bledsoe of any shenanigans.

Now the New York Times claims “credit,” along with ESPN, for “breaking” the Cam Newton story in which, so far, no one has proven anything resembling the alleged impropriety had actually happened. Indeed, the Times has already been taken to task for reporting that one of the key whistleblowers in the case had talked to one of the accused principals when at least one of the parties now denies that took place.

I don’t know what happened to cause Newton, Cam not Isaac, to attend Auburn as opposed to Mississippi State. I do know the story reported by the Times makes no logical sense though I recognize people sometimes act illogically against their best interests. Mainly, I am troubled by an institution like the New York Times spending its resources and energy in trying to out college athletes, kids really, toiling in a system we all know to be the pinnacle of hypocrisy.