I need to make a few disclaimers before I write this piece so that my biases, if any, are clear to the reader who may stop by. I'm an Alabama fan. I spent four years of my life on that campus, actually received a diploma from that distinguished University, and I will be making a trip down on Thursday to introduce my son to Alabama football, tailgating, and Denny Chimes. I also want to confess that this controversy has put me in the uncomfortable position of being proud of an Auburn football coach for defending his player. It seems obvious to me that Coach Chizik is not simply concerned about his career or his program, but that he is genuinely interested in protecting Cam Newton as an individual. I say good on him. I tip my hat to you, sir. I will never call him Coach Cheesedip or Coach Cheezit again, and that privilege is a right to every Alabama fan that I give up willingly for his manful defense of his player.
This business with Cam Newton has horrified me. It has brought me zero joy as a fan of Alabama football and the sworn enemy of all things orange and blue. It has horrified me as an American, and it has horrified me as a Christian. This isn't funny. Nothing about this is funny. To me, this is dead serious.
Let me deliver a few more disclaimers, if I may. I have no doubt that Cam Newton or his daddy is capable of taking a bribe. I believe that I am capable of taking a bribe. I believe in the falleness of humanity, the power of greed, curfews, and not letting my daughter date until she is 20, and even then I want to vet every candidate. The reason I believe in these things is because I believe in the sinfulness of humanity. All this to say that every Alabama football player could be taking bribes and it would not ruffle my worldview in the least. As G.K. Chesterton rightly notes, "It is a part of Christian dogma that any man in any rank may take bribes. It is a part of Christian dogma; it also happens by a curious coincidence that it is a part of obvious human history...In the best Utopia, I must be prepared for the moral fall of any man in any position at any moment; especially for my fall from my position at this moment." Indeed and amen. Since Cam Newton and his family are human, it is no trouble at all for me to imagine them being attracted to the prospect of a $180,000 signing bonus to a top-tier University.
Our wise forefathers recognized this tendency toward reprobation in the best of men, and therefore they designed a system of law that declared every man innocent until proven guilty. That, at the outset, may appear counter-intuitive. Actually, it might be one of the greatest strokes of genius in the history of the world. We must assume every man innocent precisely because we are prone to believe, as history and the Bible inevitably teach us, that all men are capable of the most heinous crimes. The catch is that sometimes men are innocent. Sometimes they refuse bribes. Sometimes they behave altruistically. Sometimes, men are not scoundrels. Better to set ten scoundrels free than impugn the beauty of the one man who said no to wickedness.
Therein lies my revulsion at what has occurred in the media. Cam Newton, a young man of undeniably superior talent, has been the victim of slanderous accusations with no recourse whatsoever. He has not had his day in court. Records which are protected by Federal Law have been unsealed for the world to mock. His rights as a citizen have been violated. Irrelevant charges have been brought forward to besmirch his reputation. True or false, these are matters for investigative committees who have the authority to look into such things. So that, if these charges are spurious, they may pass by without the character of an individual being assassinated. These are basic human rights over which we go to war and shoot and kill and die. This is beyond football. This is beyond rivalry. We are talking about due process and the rights of a fellow citizen, not just whether or not a young man ought to play football next week or win the Heisman trophy.
There are many things that I would like to see happen in the weeks to come. One is that I would love to see Alabama take Auburn to the woodshed. I want this to be an honorable and fair context where the best team wins. I want sportsmanship to prevail throughout the contest. I would also like to see every lawyer that graduated from the University of Alabama prepared to defend the civil rights of Cam Newton and the lofty ideal of due process. Let the man have his day in court, and let him have his privacy as well.
We Must Do the Impossible
4 years ago