During the last several days, the NFL world was let in on a little secret: players can be fans of other teams outside the one they play for during the season.
While San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick was seen wearing a Miami Dolphins hat or Atlanta's Matt Ryan posed with a Luke Kuechly jersey, the biggest shock waves seemed to emanate from Cam Newton's revelation that he is a Falcons fan except during the two games in which the Panthers play their division rival.
Taboo? Or is it an example of a player showing some allegiance to a team he grew up watching as a kid?
There seems to be enough to warrant discussion as the topic has made headlines in newspapers and across the Internet. It was a small topic on the NFL Network's show NFL AM.
The biggest thing fans need to realize is that the NFL is a business. Sure, they play a game that is popular across the country, but these guys are paid to help their team win. In the end, they are no different than any other blue or white collar worker.
It shouldn't shock too many people that he is a fan of his hometown team.
He is no different from any other athlete that talks about the team they grew up watching or rooting for as a kid. Usually, this follows on the heels of a free agent signing or a trade. Bottom line, it's alright for professional athletes to cheer for teams other than the one they are employed by.
It's human nature for sports fans to have a favorite team. Why should they stop rooting for them just because they made a career out of the game they love?
As you can imagine, this made for some interesting debate on Twitter last night.
However, would you really knock a player for being a fan of a team that is not the one he plays for? Or in Newton's case, rooting for a division rival?
Newton has played hard in every game he has started for Carolina. He has made it a personal goal to beat the Falcons in Atlanta. It's the competitor inside of him. He wants to win and get the Panthers to the playoffs. Knocking off his hometown team should have no bearing whatsoever.
As mentioned earlier, Atlanta's Matt Ryan is a fan of Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly. Of course, that could be more about their bond with Boston College, but he has shown respect and admiration for the young linebacker.
How is this any different than Cam liking the Falcons? Yes Matt Ryan is a Kuechly fan. pic.twitter.com/iYartGKs7M— Brett (@Brett_Austin11) July 16, 2013
Players have respect for other teams and players. It's common knowledge that they exchange autographed items with each other during the season. Admitting to being a fan of another team shouldn't be surprising.
Newton is young and he has said things in the past that have rubbed people the wrong way. This shouldn't be one of them. He is committed to the Panthers and, while he may be fan of them 15 weeks out of the season, it's a fair assumption that he would make an exception if a late season game carried playoff implications and he needed to root against the Falcons.
Panthers fans should have nothing to worry about when it comes to Newton's personal preferences of sports teams. It wasn't too long ago that many Carolina fans were aligned with another team before the Panthers came into the league.
Some have dropped the former team to specifically root for Carolina, while others have continued to maintain a dual allegiance. Cam Newton or any professional athlete should be no different.