On the one hand, a former Patriots quarterback and current in-game radio analyst weighing in on the current Patriots quarterback situation is a newsworthy and interesting sports item.
On the other hand, Scott Zolak isn’t just a former Patriots quarterback and team voice on the radio, he’s a sports talk radio personality in Boston, and in that capacity, his job is to say things that get attention while catering to an audience of People Who Listen To Boston Sports Talk Radio.
So, when Zolak says something that’s plainly dumb and has the pitch of a dog whistle, he’s just doing his day job.
“I’d turn off the rap music, first of all,” Zolak said on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Thursday. “Because I think it’s distracting for Cam [Newton] here. In between every throw, he’s dancing.”
Do you think that Zolak would have any problem with it if Newton wanted to hear some classic rock during practice? Zolak, after all, is the guy who got the Patriots to start playing “Your Love” by The Outfield during the fourth quarter of games in Foxboro. No, the problem isn’t “the music,” the problem is “the rap music.” And also the man doing the dancing, because, yeah, Tom Brady was a dancer himself.
So a 53-year-old white man in Boston has a problem with a local team’s most prominent Black player picking tunes that he likes. And, yes, this is the middle of a column about Zolak saying these things, but the point is that we need to stop giving oxygen to stuff like this. In addition to the not-subtle racial overtones, it’s flatly stupid.
Newton is 31, and a hard 31 in the NFL, having taken a pounding on his way to 5,398 career rushing yards. He was sacked 31 times last year, too, bringing his career total to 322 times hitting the deck before he could throw a pass, and that’s not even starting to count all the other hits the man has taken.
Last year, his first in New England, Newton got COVID-19, missed only one game, and finished the season with eight touchdown passes (equaling the total of Zolak’s eight-year career, ahem), 10 interceptions, and an average of 7.2 yards per pass attempt (1.9 yards better than Zolak’s career mark). That’s five straight seasons of 7.2 or lower, ever since Newton’s MVP season in 2015, when he carried the Panthers to a 15-1 record and an ultimately disastrous trip to the Super Bowl.
Do you think Newton just got into rap music in 2016? Or is it possible that he was already declining, came to New England as a short-term stopgap, and a bit of a gamble off a lost season to injury, in the post-Tom Brady era, and got off to a decent start before coronavirus took more of a toll than people realized?
Also, Newton is 12-for-16 for 152 yards with a touchdown, no interceptions, and a 125.0 passer rating this preseason. He’ll never be an MVP again, but he’s done a decent job on the field this month of showing that maybe he’s not totally done yet. There’s no doubt that Mac Jones is the future quarterback in New England, and will be the starter as soon as Bill Belichick believes the Alabama product is ready. Not sure why that means it’s opportune to go out of your way to take shots at Newton…
…oh, right. It is opportune when that’s what the mouthbreathing audience wants. This isn’t new at all in sports radio, in Boston, or especially on Boston sports radio. It’s just less subtle than usual.