There is a lot wrong with the mainstream media and how they cover the National Football League. In fact, if I were to really dive in and account for everything, this column would likely be dozens of pages. To spare you and myself, I'm going to narrow it down to the last two controversies that have happened in our beloved sport.
The first is Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, who the Miami Dolphins will be seeing this coming Sunday. In July 2014, he was found guilty of assaulting an ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, and was given 18 months of probation by the United States Judicial System. He was suspended by the NFL for all but the first game of the 2014 season.
He became a free agent and was signed by the Cowboys in March 2015. A month later, the NFL suspended him for ten games without pay due to violating the NFL Personal Conduct Policy but was later reduced to a four-game suspension after he successfully appealed.
When more details came out about Hardy, it was learned that he was found guilty of assault and communicating threats after he was alleged to have thrown Holder into furniture, strangled her and threatened to kill her. Things went back and forth with the judicial system and the NFL but on November 5, just several weeks ago, domestic violence charges against Hardy were expunged from his record. The next day, Deadspin released police photographs of the injuries his ex-girl.
When the public saw the photos, that's when all hell broke loose. The media became outraged, it became a trending story on social media and there was television coverage of the incident on every major sports channel. It was the main discussion point on pre-game shows and was the focus of distractions in the Dallas locker room leading up to their game that week.
Yes, we finally had a media who was willing to step up and continue to beat this issue until something was done with Hardy. Finally, people would not let this issue stand by the wayside. Finally, sponsors of the Cowboys would make some noise and force owner Jerry Jones to do something. We would finally get justice, even if it took photographs to give us visual evidence of what most of us already knew.
But just some of this happened. And then, within a day or two, there were new storylines. The focus turned to how the Cowboys desperately needed quarterback Tony Romo back. The focus was on what the locker room was like and how head coach Jason Garrett was going to control the team. The focus was no longer on what kind of heinous act Hardy did. The focus was no longer on what needed to be done with Hardy. The outrage was gone and as of today, it still hasn't really come back.
Rewind to this past Sunday when Cam Newton scored a touchdown and performed an extended celebratory dance in the end zone. Some players from the Tennessee Titans immediately got in his face and a shouting match ensued. Afterward, Newton did what he does every time he scores a touchdown - give the ball to a young fan in the stands.
While there were quite a few who applauded Newton and found the whole issue nonsense, there were many more who began to cry foul and show outrage. Anchors on sports shows blasted him, with Trent Dilfer from ESPN saying he didn't like it because it was all about him. Others said similar things and that his act was getting old. There were some who defended him, though.
The tipping point though was when The Charlotte Observer published a letter from a mother of a fourth-grade girl, who blasted Newton for dancing. An excerpt reads as follows:
"Because of where we sat, we had a close-up view of your conduct in the fourth quarter. The chest puffs. The pelvic thrusts. The arrogant struts and the ‘in your face' taunting of both the Titans' players and fans. We saw it all. I refuse to believe you don't realize you are a role model. You are paid millions of dollars every week to play hard and be a leader. In the offseason, you're expected to make appearances, support charities, and inspire young kids to pursue your sport and all sports. With everything the NFL has gone through in recent years, I'm confident they have advised that you are, by virtue of your position and career choice, a role model."
Predictably, the conversation has turned to this letter and some members of the media have found new ways to pile it on Newton. They're missing quite a bit, though.
They won't point out that Newton has granted almost a dozen requests from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They won't point out that Newton has donated thousands of dollars to various charities and community organizations. They won't point out that he has invested into the Charlotte and Atlanta Communities to make a positive impact in youth education, physical fitness and health, and community service. They won't point out that when he held a charity celebrity kickball tournament, he told his organizers to make admission free and to allow 1,500 more people to attend.
Newton doesn't just go through the motions. He deeply cares about all of the children and people he works with. There was a 14-year-old boy named Matthew Bailey who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. With only a few weeks to live, one of his last wishes was to spend time with Newton as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They had lunch together and Bailey's pastor, who helped arrange everything, had nothing but great things to say.
"He sat and spent quality time with Matthew and his family. It wasn't just a photo op, he didn't come in and pat him on the back."
Don, Matthew's father, said about Cam Newton that nobody could have been better for my son than Cam Newton in that moment. When Newton found out that Bailey had passed away, he posted this message on social media.
"Thankful to have had the opportunity to meet Matthew in his short time here. An amazing kid with an incredible heart. LET US NOT TAKE FOR GRAN1T L1FE.... AND THE PEOPLE THAT MAY COME iN OUR L1FE's!!!"
You can search for the good things Hardy has done and you won't find much at all. All that pops up are articles of violence, rap videos, poor judgments and so much more. Yet, the media won't focus on that. They won't focus on all the good things that Newton has done for the community. What they will do though is spend days focusing on a ten-second dance in the end zone when in the end, that is so trivial and minor compared to what Hardy did.
This is what's wrong with the media and it needs to change.
This column was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter! Follow @FinsInsider