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Cam Newton is the most hated man in the South since General William Sherman. The union general burned Atlanta, all Cam did was shine a light onto the darkest corners of the 2010 SEC football season. As we wait on the NCAA to issue an official ruling, the vast majority of the fans in the SEC, and elsewhere, believe that Cam was paid last year. But now Cam Newton is in the NFL and his performance in his rookie debut was otherwordly, passing for 422 yards Newton came up a couple of feet short of sending his Carolina Panthers into overtime against the Arizona Cardinals.
The scary thing about Cam Newton’s performance? It came nearly nine months to the day since he led Auburn against Oregon on the same field. And Newton was much better against the Cardinals than he was against the Ducks. Put simply, there is no limit to how good Cam Newton can become as an NFL quarterback.
During the draft Warren Moon came on our 3 Hour Lunch radio show here in Nashville and said Cam had the potential to be the greatest quarterback in NFL history. At the time we took the statement as wild hyperbole. After watching the first game, during which time Newton put up the greatest rookie passing game in NFL history, that opinion doesn’t seem so outlandish any longer.
As Cam’s assault on the record books advanced, I tweeted about his performance while watching on the NFL’s RedZone channel. (FYI, the RedZone channel might be the single greatest invention in football history. No commercials, every game, constant rotation. It’s the station I watch all day Sunday). Every time I tweeted the venom for Cam Newton was insane. And it wasn’t just Alabama fans, far from it. By the time the game ended and Newton had set his record many of y’all tweeted that he’d still lost.
The greatest performance in the history of the NFL by a rookie quarterback and some of you weren’t willing to acknowledge the brilliance of Newton’s performance? That’s the definition of a hater. (I believe that Auburn is going to eventually lose its 2010 title, but I’ve never doubted Cam’s bona fides as a player. In fact, I was the first member of the media to say he was going to win the Heisman in 2010.) The Internet is the petri-dish of hate, a place where we can distill the essence of that hate, analyze it, and compare it to others who are hated.
Most of this hate is anonymous — the very reason why all OKTC comments must be attached to a Facebook account. We don’t mind hate so long as you’re willing to put your own name behind it. But anonymous hate? Man, that’s the defintion of loserdom.
Who else is even in the running to be more hated than Cam Newton in the South?
Let’s dive in and take a look at the top ten.
10. Nancy Pelosi
Last night I tweeted that Pelosi might be the only person more disliked in the South than Cam Newton.
But then I reconsidered. Why? Because only about a quarter of people in the South, if that, could actually identify Pelosi.
Many more people would know Cam Newton.
If you, like me, are terrified by the fact that a former Speaker of the House is known by so few people, pray for our country.
9. Clay Travis
On Twitter I asked y’all to top Cam Newton for the most hated man in the South and a bunch of you suggested me. That’s true, I do have haters.
Of course my haters are some of the most pathetic haters in the hating universe. Of all the people you could be obsessed with hating you choose a 32 year old Nashville lawyer turned writer and radio show host? The hate never ceases to amaze me. And its endlessly entertaining.
Especially since the most passionate haters are the ones making me richer and richer. In the ultimate irony of all, fervent hate redounds to the benefit of the one you hate most.
Plus, with my success it’s to the point where I need to release a rap album bragging about going double platinum to give the haters even more to hate. Which will make me even richer since it will inspire more hate. (This is like 90% of the rap game, getting people who hate you to keep making your richer.) After all, we already know I’ve got rap video bona fides.
Witness me making it rain for those of you who never saw my rap debut.
8. Lane Kiffin
The amount of lingering Southern vitriol for Lane Kiffin is astounding. What’s more, it’s far from just Tennessee fans who hate Kiffin.
For my part, I’ve come to grudgingly admire Lane Kiffin’s embrace of his asshole persona. Deep down most people want to be liked. Not Kiffin. He’s got the perfect mix of bravado, arrogance, and swagger. Plus, he understands he’s an entertainer.
I’ll always dislike the Kiffin era, but I’ll always be entertained by it too. Kiffin raising his hands for the Florida fans to jeer him louder at the Swamp? It was like a WWE wrestler entering the ring and provoking more rage from the fans. I think we need even more of this.
7. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany
Delany would be higher on the hate scale if his teams were better. (It’s a sign of how far the Big Ten has fallen that there isn’t a Northern coach who provokes any significant hate below the Mason-Dixon line).
Right now Delany sweeps up all that hate with his snide, denigrating remarks about the South. Delany is the master of insult inference; he walks right to the edge of propriety, makes his comments, and then backpeddles holding up his hands in front of him.
“I didn’t say THAT,” should be on Delany’s headstone.
You might not have said it, but you meant it.
For that, we hate you.
6. Cecil Newton
Dads and moms are much more troubled by Cecil Newton than they are Cam Newton.
As a matter of principle, I have no issue with a kid deciding he wants to get paid for his college talents. That makes sense to me. If you told me tomorrow that instead of getting paid for OKTC and my radio show, I’d get a college scholarship, I’d decline to work and pull an Ari and move to Italy for a year. But if I ever decided to sell my sons’ labors to the highest bidder? I’d deserve your heaps of ridicule and scorn.
And if I also happened to be a Southern preacher — a crew whose hypocrisies know no bounds — well, I’d be hated a ton too.
At least Cam can point to jealousy as the reason for much of his hate. Cecil can’t do that. He’s just an incredible ass.
5. Paul Finebaum
Finebaum’s ability to be hated by every fan base in the South is truly an amazing accomplishment.
Even when Paul is destroying me on air for some perceived offense or another, I like him.
That’s because Paul has managed the rarest of all feats, what I call the “Bring It On” of sports. One of my favorite movies is “Bring It On.” Why? Because the movie is so cunning, sinister and smartly written that it destroys high school cheerleaders while at the same time making obscene amounts of money off of them coming to see the movie.
They’re not in on the joke. The movie can be watched as a triumph of high school cheerleading or as a spectacular take down of high school cheerleaders. Writing on that level is incredibly difficult to pull off.
In a more positive vein, you could call this the Pixar Effect. Pixar movies occur on two levels at once, the adult and the child. We both watch, but the story that we see is experienced differently. (The parents end up crying more, by the way. Now that I have kids I love these movies even more than I did before I had kids. And I cry every time. The Up marriage montage at the beginning is done without words and never ceases to leave me crying.)
Now let’s apply this duality principle to sports talk radio — in order to be astoundingly successful, you have to appeal to two audiences at once, the smart and the dumb.
Finebaum does this with Alabama and Auburn fans.
On its surface level this is a sports show, and that’s where most fans experience it. But on another level the entire show is a circus of sorts, a funhouse mirror of reflected fandom. Finebaum’s tongue is perpetually in his cheek. Yes, these people really do exist.
And they make the circus master, Finebaum, insanely wealthy.
Seven figures a year.
4. Barack Obama
I like to think that this is based entirely on disagreements with his policies.
But I have my doubts.
3. William Tecumseh Sherman
He’s been dead for over 120 years, but the man who burned Atlanta and made the South howl will never really escape our ire.
Growing up my grandmother told stories about Sherman. She was born in 1912, but her grandmother had told her about Sherman’s people taking all the family’s livestock back in the Civil War.
It’s now 2011 and I’ll be able to tell my boys about Sherman taking all the family’s livestock.
The hate may be dimming — my grandmother also used the work “Yankee” as an epithet — but it’s still there.
2. Nancy Grace
Voila, the only person on the list who I have genunine distaste for.
I try to limit my hate because I realize that the hate ultimately benefits the person you hate.
But I just can’t help it with her.
A woman who has made a career of convincing attractive white women — in reality the safest group of people in the history of the world — that they are in perpetual danger of death and dismemberment.
Two months ago I offered Nancy Grance $10k to a charity of her choice if she had me on her show. She declined.
I hope she breaks a leg on Dancing With the Stars.
1. Cam Newton
Yep, it’s Cam.
Outside of his base of support in Auburn fans — and potentially Carolina Panther fans — Cam is the most hated person in the South.
That’s a meteoric rise considering that a year ago he probably didn’t even rank in the top million most hated.