YOUR TWEETS STINK. In case you haven’t heard, your tweets about Cam Newton have really angered a lot of people in Charlotte! It’s very obvious that you dislike Newton and were rooting against him during the game. Would you have said the same about other QBs in the same situation? I don’t think so. Your bias was very evident and it leaves me (and I’m sure others) questioning your credibility.
—John King, Charlotte
Did you watch the game? At the time of my tweets, in which I said Newton was “failing miserably,” he was failing miserably. Four straight three-and-outs. Twelve possessions on the day to that point, and only the one-play, 43-yard touchdown drive (a DeAngelo Williams run) for the offense in the first 59 minutes. After the game, Newton admitted he was frustrated by not putting the performance he wanted. In the last minute of the game, Newton put a terrific five-play, 65-yard drive together, with two of the three passes tough, clutch throws.
So … would you, and the general public, prefer I not tweet during sports events, wait till the end of the game, and then state my opinion at the end of the game? Or should I tweet only positive thoughts that wouldn’t be offensive to anyone? This was the game of the day in the NFL, and I was watching at NBC, and I had a few observations, and I made them. You won’t get an apology out of me for expressing my opinion.
AM I BIASED BECAUSE CAM NEWTON DOESN’T TALK TO ME? You mentioned your tweets about Cam Newton during the Saints-Panthers game, and Deadspin mentioned them as well. What do you say to critics who say that your writing and opinions are biased based on who you’re close with? I personally believe that no matter what you (or anyone else) write, someone will always find something to complain about, but it’d be interesting to hear your thoughts. Thanks and happy holidays.
—Steven W., New York City
That’s a good question. All I can say to those who say I am biased toward Cam Newton is that, although I have not spoken to him since before the 2011 draft, I approach him with an open mind. If I criticize him, as I did during the fourth quarter Sunday, it’s because I thought he was playing subpar football. Am I closer to some players than others? Yes, as are most reporters who cover the NFL. I try at all times to not let my relationships with players influence what I write, and sometimes it’s hard. But in this case, all I can say is I was trying to write what I saw in a football game. That’s not going to change.
I SHOULD NOT HAVE IGNORED TONY ROMO. Not a word about Romo, eh? Wonder why he gets such a bad rep? His mistakes are magnified and he doesn’t get credit when he does something good. He single handedly (and on one leg) saves his team’s season (perhaps temporarily), but not a single word about it. Are you going to tell me it wouldn’t be one of your lead stories if he had thrown an interception to likely eliminate them from the playoffs? There’s nothing juicier than that.
—Kirk, Fairfax, Va.
People read a lot into what I write about, and what I don’t write about. I try to write four or five chunks of the column about distinctive things that happen in the weekend’s games, or on topics around the NFL, and I can’t get to all of them. I like Romo, and I have what I think is a good relationship with him. Ignoring what happened at the end of the game Sunday was not a knock.
THE CARDINALS DESERVE A SPOT IN THE PLAYOFFS. If the Arizona Cardinals reach 11 wins and do not make the postseason, then this will be twice in the past decade that an 11-win team does not make the dance. This exposes a major flaw in the way the NFL rules handle playoff seeding and it needs to be fixed. My proposal is this. The two division winners with the best records get the bye. The other two division winners get lumped into the Wild Card hunt and get no automatic entry into the playoffs. Not only will this ensure the “best” teams make it in, it will also lead to more competitive weeks 16 and 17.
I think every team that wins a division should make the playoffs. I am actually okay with the occasional Arizona not making it, because there has to be a premium for finishing first in a division. Where I would like to see the system changed: The fifth seed in the NFC could be a 12-game winner and could have to travel to an eight-win fourth seed, if Green Bay beats Chicago Sunday. I am in favor of seeding based on record, with no regard to division winner. If you win the division, you deserve to be in the postseason, but you do not deserve to host a playoff game if your record is inferior to another team’s.
HE THINKS PEYTON MANNING AND THE BRONCOS RAN IT UP. Congratulations to the affable and marketable Peyton Manning breaking yet another NFL passing record. My question is why Peyton gets a pass on running up the score and passing late in games. I seem to remember certain media members questioning Bill Belichick/Tom Brady for ‘bullying’ lesser teams in the search for the record in 2007. Seems odd that the Sportsman of the Year gets no guff.
Denver was up 17 with 5:16 to play Sunday when Manning drove for the last touchdown. I don’t call that running up the score, because two scores and an onside kick, while highly unlikely, are certainly conceivable. The game you’re talking about in 2007—at least one of them—was New England up 38-0 early in the fourth quarter against Washington and Tom Brady throwing seven or eight passes on a drive to make it 45-0. I thought that was excessive. But if you think Denver should have grinded out a four- or five-minute drive to bleed the clock there instead of scoring, I understand. I think you could probably find a few examples of teams up by 17 with five or six minutes left in a game still trying to score.