Pride before the fall

Most young people find it impossible to believe that when I played in the NFL, ESPN did not exist. In fact, very few NFL games were televised when I played. One of the things that ESPN, the NFL Network, and the worldwide nonstop coverage of sports has brought us is self-adulation. In other words, in a team sport, especially back in the day, you would never see any one individual player bringing undue attention to themselves. After all, team success can never be attributed to one player.

Though I had no reason not to applaud the meteoric rise of the Carolina Panthers this past season, I grew continuously more disgusted with Cam Newton’s constant attention grabbing antics. The give-the-ball-away to a child in the end zone idea was brilliant. And, I really don’t mind players celebrating a touchdown or a great play, after all, in the end it’s just entertainment. But going out of the way to act like any great play was all about him is different. In my opinion it has no place in the game.

My father loved Proverbs, and he had memorized many of them. There was one in particular that he drilled into my head that has served me well – Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” I found it pretty ironic that the constantly on display self-proclaimed greatness of Cam Newton was suddenly turned on its head when things did not go his way in the Super Bowl. After the game, the usually flashy dressed, can’t stop talking, and flamboyant self proclaimed “Superman of football”, sat before the press in a dark hoodie, head down, mumbling three word sentences. Superman had met his kryptonite, and he didn’t handle it well.

What we observed in Cam’s fall is as old as humanity. The first big kryptonite crash occurred in Genesis eleven with the story of the Tower of Babel. Verse 4 reads, “Let us make a name for ourselves.” Friedrich Nietzsche, the nineteenth-century atheist philosopher, said the most fundamental drive of the human heart is the “will to power,” a lust for dominance. This is what drives fallen humanity.

Wedged into Cam Newton’s mighty fall is a commercial where he appears to be offering up a prayer. In it he says, “You [God] place purpose on my shoulders. Then he asks, “Lord, give me the strength to finish this [the Super Bowl] MY way.” When I watched it the first time I said to myself, “Woops, wrong prayer!” Once again, Cam was forgetting that it’s not all about him. Maybe the ending would have been different had prayed, “Lord, give me the strength to finish this YOUR way.”

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16: 18