If you're getting ready to judge an athlete for something they said or did, take a breath. Are you outraged because their actions were morally indefensible? Or are you outraged because a columnist says you should be outraged? Because it's a columnist's job to read the paper and find something to get outraged about. Oh, like this! Curse that greedy Cam Newton!
Cam Newton's doing an autograph signing tomorrow at SouthPark Mall in Charlotte. It'll cost you $125 for a signed photo, $150 to sign a football, $175 to sign a jersey, and an extra 50 bucks if you want that signature personalized. And Scott Fowler of the Observer is outraged!
Newton has done almost everything right in Charlotte since he arrived. This, though, is a false step.
For some reason, it feels different to me when Newton is charging for autographs in Alabama. That was from a different time in his life. That's like Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith going back to Dallas to charge for autographs (which they do).
In Charlotte, though? Newton shouldn't charge for autographs in his current hometown. That's part of just being part of the community.
Forget the weird plea for geographic exceptionalism. ("Go take your blood-and-ink money circus to Raleigh. Here in Charlotte, we compensate you sufficiently with our applause.") There are plenty of good reasons for an athlete to charge money: Collectors turn around and sell the memorabilia. The promoter gets half of the proceeds anyway. But the most offensive argument is the one that insinuates a player is somehow rich enough, and shouldn't be out to make more.
"The Panthers pay Newton plenty of money," Fowler writes. "Charging for autographs in Charlotte seems a little cheap." Well, shit. I had no idea we had a personal earnings cap here in AMURRICA. If Cam Newton can make another $50,000 for a couple hours of work, he is a very lucky man and might be dumb for not doing this every week. And if he wants to spend it on a diamond stud earring or a Land Rover or underground royalty porn, he should do that too, because he's not bending anyone's arm to pony up the cash. As Fowler even notes, Newton already signs thousands of free autographs, all the time. Don't want to pay $150 bucks? Then don't! Go to training camp and get one there.
Newton spent his entire college career struggling against the imposed notion that an amateur player shouldn't be compensated for his value. He reportedly didn't struggle very hard, but that's not the point. He's a pro now, and he can get paid, and people are willing to pay him for his image and his presence. Fair compensation, set by an open market, to reward an athlete for his perceived worth. What a novel concept.
Update: Seems a lot of folks are legit mad about Cam charging? Is it the practice, or the person? Because he's actually asking less for a signature than one Tim Tebow did.
$125 for an autograph? Cam Newton shouldn't sign off on this [Charlotte Observer]