Catching up on a few things I care about . . .
▪ Cam Newton has been great about using his social media accounts to keep the football world updated on his new Patriot life, and the shot of him deep in study with his playbook (caffeine at the ready) garnered some fun sympathy from teammate Julian Edelman, who endorsed Newton’s description of the plays as “calculus” by drawing “A Beautiful Mind”-like equations over the images.
But it was another video that got me to thinking about a particular aspect of Newton’s MVP talents, the one in which he says “I’m getting tired of being humble now” and proceeds to share a snippet of his intense workout regimen. The clip shows off just how physically fit and ready Newton appears to be to get back on the football field, and serves as a powerful reminder that his remarkable talent has always been rooted in his strength. He might be the best dual-threat QB of all time, a man whose throwing arm was more than complemented by strong legs that made him near impossible to bring down.
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With that in mind, I can’t help but wonder how he’ll be treated vis-a-vis penalties now that he’s in a Patriots uniform instead of a Panthers one, if he’ll ever get the benefit of the roughing-the-passer doubt that Tom Brady had for two decades in New England, if local fans will rise up in his defense the way they did whenever they felt Brady was unduly hit. Remember, Newton was so bothered by the lack of calls against him that he had a sit-down with commissioner Roger Goodell back in 2016. Newton had gone from a Week 15 game in 2014 until a Week 12 game in 2016 without drawing such a penalty, and it was after a particularly grueling game in Week 8 of the 2016 season that he was moved to reach out to the league office.
He said this after the Goodell meeting: “Illegal hits for me start in the pocket. I know when I am running the football, I am on my own. I understand that. I’m not a dummy or oblivious to the fact that I run the football more than any quarterback who has ever played this game. I mean, duh. I’m fine with that. In the pocket, that’s all I’m asking for. Just to get certain things, the standard of every person getting the same calls, that’s all.”
With countless injuries taking their toll since then, I know I’ll be extra curious to see how hits are called against New England Newton.
▪ Congrats to Bryson DeChambeau for a fascinating win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic last weekend, his bulked-up physique and professed new mind-set making it clear he’s a player on the major stage going forward. But can’t say I agree with DeChambeau’s take on how a camera operator acted during Saturday’s third round. After DeChambeau’s mini outburst that included throwing his club following a disappointing greenside bunker shot, the camera wisely followed DeChambeau, ready to capture any more displays of emotion. That’s the currency of sports journalism, finding moments that show rather than tell, using images to make us feel what an athlete is feeling.
But the golfer didn’t see it that way.
“He was literally watching me the whole entire way up after getting out of the bunker, walking up next to the green,” he told Golf Channel’s Will Gray. “And I just was like, ‘Sir, what is the need to watch me that long?' I mean, I understand it’s his job to video me, but at the same point, I think we need to start protecting our players out here compared to showing a potential vulnerability and hurting someone’s image. I just don’t think that’s necessarily the right thing to do …
“For that to damage our brand like that, that’s not cool in the way we act because if you actually meet me in person, I’m not too bad of a dude, I don’t think.”
I will never, ever understand why people think the filming (or writing) of a certain behavior is worse than the behavior itself.
▪ The gymnastics fallout continues, with ESPN soon to release a seven-part podcast called “Heavy Medals: Inside the Karolyi Gymnastics Empire.” Described as “a sweeping look at the influence of Romanian-born coaches, Bela and Martha Karolyi, and, in turn, the transformation of USA Gymnastics over the past four decades,” the series is reported by ESPN senior writers Bonnie Ford and Alyssa Roenigk. Though the Karolyis are not in the criminal crosshairs that did snare Larry Nassar and should snare Steve Penny, the culture of fear and intimidation created at the ranch they ran bears scrutiny.
As does the role of the FBI in investigating the serial sexual predator Nassar, an issue torn open by the Netflix documentary “Athlete A.” On Wednesday, the Orange County Register reported that the US Department of Justice’s Inspector General says the investigation is still ongoing. That inspector, Michael E. Horowitz, says a public report will be released when completed.
But, as the newspaper points out, “The Justice Department, however, still has not released the OIG report on the FBI’s role in the Nassar scandal a year and a half after the OIG official leading the investigation told parties in the case that the investigators’ report had been forwarded to the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. Two federal prosecutors in the PIS also confirmed they had received the report nearly a year ago, an attorney involved in the case said.”
Time seems to be up in England too, where British Gymnastics, the country’s governing body, just announced an independent review “following concerns raised by a number of British gymnasts about mistreatment.”
▪ Kelly Loeffler might end up losing both a Senate seat and an ownership stake in the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, or she might end up keeping both. I don’t know. She certainly has a right to raise her personal objections to the league’s decision to back the Black Lives Matter movement in their uniforms, even if they buck current momentum among players and league officials. Players have just as much right to disagree with her.
But in saying this in her letter to commissioner Cathy Engelbert, Loeffler is fighting a losing battle: “The truth is, we need less — not more politics in sports. In a time when polarizing politics is as divisive as ever, sports has the power to be a unifying antidote. And now more than ever, we should be united in our goal to remove politics from sports.”
That train has left the station.
▪ Have to agree, if sadly, with the decision to postpone the Ryder Cup to 2021. Of all the events I can think of that don’t really work without fans, this one tops the list. And until we solve the COVID-19 pandemic, fans won’t be there. It’s better to wait. Interesting that it will return to an odd-year rotation, which was its schedule before the events of 9/11 moved it to even years.
▪ How exciting is Christian Pulisic? With eight goals in 21 career games with Chelsea, the 21-year-old Pennsylvanian has scored three in five Premier League games since it restarted last month, leading respected Blues coach Frank Lampard to say recently his game is “on another level.”
Tara Sullivan is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Globe_Tara.