Back in April, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson told the Charlotte Observer that he's never wanted a "roster of 53 choirboys" on his football team, which is a very nice and almost renegade sentiment for a 75-year-old millionaire to share. But he also doesn't want a quarterback with tattoos, piercings, or long hair.
Richardson was on Charlie Rose last night alongside Jerry Jones, the man he affectionately refers to as "Coach." The three together made for a rather stunning roundtable of not-yet-doddering members of the Silent Generation. Rose had apparently read Tom Sorenson's April piece in the Observer, and he pressed his fellow "North Care-oh-leen-yin" (in Richardson's twang) on the conversation he and Newton had had in the owner's Charlotte home before the Panthers signed him in May:
Richardson: I wanted to look him in the eyes, so to speak... He was dressed perfectly. I said, "Do you have any tattoos?" He said, "No sir, I don't have any." I said, "Do you have any piercings?" He said, "No sir, I don't have any." And I said, "We want to keep it that way."
And then he told me that he thought about letting his hair grow out, and his father found out about it. [He] lived in Georgia, drove to Texas, and took care of the hair he was thinking about growing. I said, "We want to keep no tattoos, no piercings, and I think you've got a very nice haircut."
Rose: You sound like Lombardi.
Richardson: No, I just sound reasonable to me.
Well, no, you sound like Lombardi, Mr. Richardson, sir. There's no official rule to enforce here, but that doesn't bother an old "reasonable" soul like Richardson. As long as there's no conflict with Newton (who reportedly wrote the owner a three-page letter after their first meeting), his request is fair game. That does not mean that it's not totally patriarchal and anachronistic. It also makes one wonder how Richardson might have reacted had Newton conveyed that he may, in fact, want to get a tattoo some day. Perhaps Charlie Rose didn't want to get into all that during this particular half hour.
Newton has no tats, no piercings, and no braids, but he does have a history that might not align with the conventional understanding of a choirboy. But at their meeting in April, Richardson reportedly told Newton that he wasn't interested in talking about "the past." Only his bright, ink-free future.