*Ralph wants to make sure readers realize that when he says 'hate,' he means 'sports hate' - sort of how he used to 'sports-hate' Joe Montana for frustrating the Saints...or, naturally, how he 'hates' the Falcons...
I’ve got a confession to make - I love to hate Cam Newton. Cam is far and away the player I most enjoy pulling against every Sunday. As far as my sports hate goes, the Atlanta Falcons will always be the number one team in my heart as far as wishing horrible, terrible, traumatizing, in-game calamities happen to them and their fans. 28-3 is a like the Washington Monument of sports collapses and it will live forever.
While pure, full-throated hatred of the Atlanta Falcons is ingrained in most Saints fans DNA, individual players we despise varies widely. I tried to learn to hate Matt Ryan, but he’s as interesting as sheetrock. Has Matt Ryan ever done or said anything that made you just want to do something incredibly immature to him, like boo while he walks down the other side of the street? I googled ‘interesting Matt Ryan quotes’ and some Welsh actor came up instead.
Sorry Matt, you are too uninteresting to hate.
Cam Newton on the other hand, gives us SO many fantastic reasons to get mad at him. In life, the thing that bonds us together isn’t who and what we love, it’s the people and things we despise that bring us closer together.
The first thing to hate about Cam is he terrifies me anytime Carolina plays the Saints. He’s big, fast, and can absolutely create a touchdown on plays the Saints defend perfectly. Oh look, the Saints covered every one of those mediocre Panthers receivers for five whole seconds, and Cam ran for a 40-yard touchdown anyway. The thought of it makes me want to punch a wall.
One fun part of pulling against Cam is while his athletic greatness is frightening, unlike most great quarterbacks in the NFL, he can also terrible at times. Just last Sunday he completed 11 of 28 passes and looked at times like Tim Tebow. Earlier this year he threw three interceptions against the Saints, each one more delightfully awful than the previous one. They say you hate what you fear and I fear Cam Newton because I never know if he’s going to burn the Saints defense or his own team to the ground.
Of course no other quarterback celebrates touchdowns, first downs, or anything like Cam does.
“It’s no secret that I am not afraid to shine bright and be festive, and I like to encourage that in others."
Who doesn’t appreciate and love a guy who wants to be festive? Me. It’s common knowledge ‘festive’ celebrations are only adorable when the Saints do them. I grew up watching Deion Sanders practically set off fireworks and have the Rockettes join in his post interception celebrations while he was a Falcon, but I tell you NOTHING infuriates me more than Cam’s first down point during games. It’s like he’s whispering in my ear, “The Saints defense is terrible, just letting you know.”
The best part of hating Cam is he doesn’t just give us reasons to hate and laugh at him with on-field play. No sir, Cam goes the extra mile and allows us to both hate and laugh at his pre and post-game wardrobe choices and sound bites which only make sense to a hippie or a six-year-old.
Cam’s fashion sense includes a love of bright-colored hats, looking like Waldo stepped right out of 1987, or wearing a tuxedo with no dress socks. Watching the sad post-game press conference after a Panthers loss where Cam is dressed in something from an Italian fashion designer’s nightmare after too much gelato is one of life’s true joys.
Waiting for Cam to drop wisdom that is unique is the best.
“Hindsight is always 50/50."
That quote is magical. It’s like Yogi Berra, only more confusing.
“What happens when you take a lion out of the safari and try to take him to your place of residence and make him a house pet? It ain’t going to happen. That’s the type of person I am. I’m that lion."
I’d say you go on a safari and lions are in the jungle but it’s probably best to just let Cam keep talking. Those quotes are funny but “This is a football game and it’s supposed to be played as such. I’m not in the sport of ballerina, gymnastics." might have been my favorite. The sport of ballerina is AMAZING."
Then Cam dropped this masterpiece quote earlier this year on the trade of Kelvin Benjamin, “Yeah we just lost a great player, but nevertheless the Titanic still has to go.”
Does Cam realize the Titanic had an iceberg problem? The man is the funniest comedian working today.
How can any Saints fan not love to hate and laugh at this man? Cam Newton, I love to hate you so much, don’t ever change.
Saints Mood and Meditation Music: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Something Good Coming I listened to a ton of Tom Petty on the drive to New Orleans for Thanksgiving and I love this song’s cheery title and haunting lyrics. The NFC South is incredibly tight and competitive and the fear of the Saints not making the playoffs suddenly seems way too real, but 2017 is just too much fun to not have a happy ending in the regular season. Gotta believe something good coming… The Games Last Week: 1-4 Season: 27-23
Carolina (+4.5) at New Orleans: The Saints season is about to go one of two ways, either they are going to take complete of the NFC South and make a charge at getting a bye in the postseason, or they will be clinging to their playoffs like a man to a life preserver lost at sea. These next two games will define the 2017 Saints.
The Panthers defense is second is yards allowed, eighth in points allowed, and fourth in sacks. The sacks are big concern considering how the Saints offensive line has protected Drew Brees the past two weeks. Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley both were 'limited' in practice Wednesday - that's more promising than last week, but I’m thinking at least one of them plays. Let’s not even pretend the defense is surviving without both.
I’ll be attending this game, which while exciting, might be bad news for the Saints. They’ve currently lost five straight games I’ve attended in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. Last time I saw them win? October 4, 2015 against the Dallas Cowboys, otherwise known as C.J. Spiller’s one shining moment as a Saint. Sunday is the biggest Saints game of the year because if Saints beat Carolina and get to 11 wins they are almost a lock to win the division. The reason is if the Saints are 11-5 and hold the tiebreaker over the Panthers, even if the Atlanta Falcons beat the Saints twice they could only lose once more to be 11-5, which seems unlikely. The stakes couldn’t be bigger.
Sometimes I wonder if fans and media ignore history or just haven’t paid attention since Drew Brees arrived in 2006. Every year Brees has a stretch of two or three bad games where he misses throws and has a bunch of interceptions. He’s had those games these last two weeks. The Rams dropped at least three interceptions and Washington had one and had another called back because of a penalty. We could easily be talking about Brees having five or six interceptions the last two weeks. He does this every year and every year he comes out of it. The “DREW BREES IS IN DECLINE!!!” stories get more clicks than “This happens every year” stories.
I expect Brees to bounce back and Lattimore to seal the victory late. Saints 27-24
Minnesota (+3) at Atlanta: Eventually the Case Keenum magical mystery tour will come crashing down, let’s hope it’s not this week. Vikings 28-21
Philadelphia (-4) at Seattle: It’d probably be better for the Saints if the Eagles won so the Seahawks road to the playoffs is more difficult.
Denver (-1) at Miami: I know John Elway probably has a job for life with the Broncos but doesn’t he have to answer for not being able to find a quarterback better than Brock Osweiler?
Buffalo (+8) vs. New England: How funny is it going to be when the Tyrod Taylor helps the Bills win a playoff game in the horrible AFC and then Buffalo cuts him in March?
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at Saintshappyhour@gmail.com, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SaintsForecast or download his podcast at Itunes.