Social media has rotted everyone’s brains, especially anyone whose brain was still developing the first time they picked up an iPhone. So it was entirely the most predictable moment in human history when a kid at a Cam Newton football camp was more concerned with making a viral video on TikTok than learning how to be a better player.
The original clip came out over the weekend, in which a heckling camper chirps to Newton “You’re a free agent” and “You’re about to be poor.” Newton responded by repeating “I’m rich,” and that’s all the kid wanted to show anyone. So predictably, a lot of people found it funny and celebrated the kid while criticizing Newton. Because two big hallmarks of teenage behavior – petulance and pettiness – are mainstream now.
Those people obviously have it backward. This kid was lucky enough to get into a football camp with a former MVP and Heisman winner who played in a Super Bowl and has a net worth of $75 million. He chose Internet clout over maybe trying to figure out how to get to Newton’s level. He will look back on this moment as a grown man and cringe.
Other current and former NFL players rightfully criticized the heckler and the generation, fair or not, that he represents.
Any young athlete watching this video please don’t be this kid, Don’t miss your chance to learn something from someone who has been their at the highest level in this sport.... STAY HUMBLE https://t.co/BCmGPK8w1W— 7⃣ Leonard Fournette (@_fournette) February 21, 2021
This is crazy— Will Compton (@_willcompton) February 21, 2021
A heisman winner, an NFL MVP, & a 10 year pro hosting a football camp.. and instead of really trying to get something out of it - you clout chase for some weird attention.
Kid should be kicked out and grounded indefinitely https://t.co/9fvHMHOqSn
No, you’re right - it’s a legit frame of mind for a lot of this generation. That camera phone is a hell of a motivator + makes it easy for anyone to get that attention. Adults too, but these kids are coming up in it. https://t.co/atTcEXqOM3— hydrated king chris long (@JOEL9ONE) February 21, 2021
The next generation has been ruined by social media. What they don’t realize is that all these camps and recruiting circuits were created from athletes before them. RESPECT goes a long way. Keep your mouth closed and grind and maybe one day you’ll get to the level Cam is. Maybe https://t.co/GsnEMhlbcq— Diontae Spencer (@DSpencer4_) February 21, 2021
Newton ultimately took the high road, posting a lengthy response on his Instagram page after the kid got his wish and the video went viral. You can see in the video that Newton tries to talk to the heckler before defusing the situation along with another coach.
His caption reads, in part: “People want to see me arguing with another young man and to see me ‘get in my Feelings’… but the TRUTH is this, I IMPACT KIDS’ LIVES IN A POSITIVE WAY, make NO MISTAKE about it, I allow kids to realize they’re OUT, by using their football talents to get them to the next level and in MOST cases…. OUT OF THE HOOD!!”
The kid isn’t doomed just because he decided to mouth off instead of listen and learn from an accomplished pro athlete. Hopefully he does learn to do the right thing next time he’s in this setting. But social media and smartphones have such a powerful effect on our minds, it could take a lot more than this one moment. Especially when the stupid video went viral in the first place.
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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at email@example.com.