Stroman On Sports: Not-So-Super Bowl

2015 was a good year for the Carolina Panthers, but it ended in disappointment with a Super Bowl defeat. Quarterback Cam Newton won the league MVP award, but struggled against the Broncos’ defense – and while he was gracious in defeat on the field, he also walked out of his postgame press conference.

Deborah Stroman is a sports commentator and a professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. She discussed the Super Bowl after the game with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.

Americans Split On Politics, Football

Republicans are split three ways on who they favor for President; Democrats still favor Hillary Clinton but by a narrowing margin; and Americans are equally divided on which team they want to win the Super Bowl.

That’s the latest finding by Raleigh-based polling firm Public Policy Polling. PPP released a pair of survey results this week: one on the Super Bowl, with the game just hours away, and another on the presidential race post-Iowa.

PPP director Tom Jensen spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


On the Super Bowl, Americans are split down the middle: 40 percent of Americans are rooting for the Panthers and 40 percent are rooting for the Broncos. (Regardless of who they’re rooting for, 56 percent say they think the Panthers will win.) The 40/40 split masks an interesting racial and generational divide, though: white people (46-34) and senior citizens (55-28) tend to support the Broncos, while nonwhites (53-26) and Americans under 45 (46-31) are rooting for the Panthers.

Is that a Cam Newton thing? Possibly, says PPP director Tom Jensen: Newton’s favorability rating is 81 percent with nonwhite voters, but only 46 percent with whites – and only 48 percent of Republicans say they approve of Newton, while 79 percent say they approve of Broncos QB Peyton Manning. (On the other hand, only 24 percent of Republicans actually disapprove of Newton – numbers that any politician would kill for.)

More numbers from PPP’s Super Bowl survey here.

When it comes to politics, PPP finds Donald Trump’s support has taken a big hit in the wake of his second-place finish in the Iowa caucus. He still leads all GOP candidates, but his support has dropped from 34 percent in December to 25 percent today. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio trail just behind Trump with 21 percent each. (That represents a major bump for Rubio, who only polled 13 percent last month. Cruz, who actually won the Iowa caucus, hasn’t seen his support level or favorability rating change much at all.) Jensen says Rubio has the clear momentum heading deeper into primary season: he actually leads Trump and Cruz in head-to-head matchups, so he’s poised to benefit the most as other candidates begin dropping out. (On the other hand, Jensen says Trump still has one key number in his favor: while 50 percent of GOP voters say they’re still open to changing their minds about whom to support, 71 percent of Trump supporters say they’re locked in. That’s a far stronger base of support than Cruz and Rubio enjoy.)

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is almost certain to win the New Hampshire primary next week, but Hillary Clinton still has a 21-point lead nationally, 53-32. Sanders is still closing the gap – he trailed Clinton by 28 points in December – but Jensen says he’s still struggling to win over black voters, who support Clinton by an 82-8 margin. That won’t matter much in lily-white New Hampshire, but it will make it much harder for Sanders to win states like Nevada or South Carolina, which are up next on the primary calendar.

More numbers from PPP’s presidential primary survey here.

Cam Newton, Sports, America…And “Disrespect”

For the good of the team…let’s disrespect Cam Newton.

Listen to Aaron’s notebook:


Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has led his team to the Super Bowl. He’s had an incredible year, and he’s probably going to be the MVP. But! He’s still not the NFL’s most popular player.

That, apparently, is Russell Wilson. According to the NFL Players Association, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is #1 on the list of top-selling jerseys. Tom Brady is #2, Peyton Manning is #5. Cam Newton? The MVP? Cam Newton is #22! Right behind Seattle’s tight end, because that makes sense. Cam Newton’s not even the top-ranking player on his own team – that’d be Luke Kuechly at #18.

Talk about disrespect, am I right? Talk about disrespect!

Of course…we don’t have to remind Cam Newton to talk about disrespect. He’s a professional athlete. He feeds off disrespect. This is not a Cam Newton thing. This is every pro athlete. Every time they win a title, it’s the same interview. “Nobody respected us. Nobody believed in us. Everybody hated us. It was us against the universe.”

Remember Muhammad Ali shouting “I shook up the world”? That’s what I’m talking about. Pro athletes, all of them, are constantly living under the impression (right or wrong) that nobody respects them, everybody hates them, everybody’s out to get them.

It’s a pathology! It’s a professional athletic pathology!

Except…for the fact that it’s not. This actually isn’t a pro athlete thing either. This is an America thing. This is all of us. You and me. We all feed off disrespect. We’re all exactly the same way.


Well – what do Americans believe in, more than anything? Two things: we believe in freedom and we believe in individualism. It’s a really interesting combination. If we believe in Freedom, that means we’ve got to be suspicious of Power. Political power, economic power, physical power, it doesn’t matter: we don’t like power, and we don’t trust people with power because those are the people who can run over the little guy. Those are the people who can threaten our freedom.

(This is why we’re always rooting for the underdog. This is why every Hollywood movie is a plucky little nobody going up against a big powerful behemoth. It’s why Star Wars is plotted out the way it is.)

But we also believe in individualism. We believe in every individual’s right to go out and pursue their own happiness, go after their own interest, work hard, get lucky, try to get big and rich and successful. It’s the American Dream. And if we believe in individualism, that means we also have to believe in ourselves. First and foremost. Love yourself. Look out for number one.

What do these two things mean, put together? If we mistrust power, if we believe in the little guy, and if we believe in ourselves, then we have to believe – all of us have to believe – that we are the little guy. It doesn’t matter how big and rich and powerful and supported and beloved we really are. For the American mentality to work, I have to believe that I am the underdog, I am the plucky little nobody, powerful forces are lining up against me, and it’s me (and my friends) against the world.

This is why (for example) our foreign policy often seems so schizophrenic. We don’t really know how to handle the fact that we’re the most powerful country in the world. But this is also why you find so many straight white men who say they’re the real victims. This is why so many Christian leaders say they feel oppressed, in a country that’s still 85 percent Christian. This is why you, like 90 percent of Americans, probably think of yourself as “middle class,” no matter how rich or poor you really are. (I’m with you on that one.)

And every time your team wins the championship, this is why it always feels like they overcame such incredible adversity. “Everybody hated us. Nobody believed in us. We were the plucky little nobodies. It was us against the world.”

So, here’s my message to Panthers fans: this week, let’s all come together and support our quarterback. Let’s get Cam Newton motivated. Let’s make sure he’s ready to play.

We’ve got a couple days left. Here’s how you do it. Go to Walmart right now, or Target, or the mall, and buy up as many Peyton Manning jerseys as you possibly can. And wear those babies around, loudly and proudly. Take pictures of yourself wearing ’em and tweet them at Cam Newton every day.

You want Cam Newton to win the Super Bowl? Make sure he feels disrespected.

After all…it’s the American way.

Stroman On Sports: Marketing Cam Newton

The Carolina Panthers are prepping for the Super Bowl and the excitement is building, but a lot of the public discussion has focused on an off-the-field issue: namely, how the public and the media treat the Panthers’ flashy star quarterback Cam Newton.

Newton is unafraid to be expressive and many have criticized him for being too expressive. Is the criticism fair? (Stuart Scott got the same bad rap when he was starting out.) Is there a racial component? (Are there equally expressive white players who get a free pass?) And from an economic perspective, how do the Panthers and the NFL market a player like Newton, who may well be the league’s most dominant, most visible, and perhaps most polarizing figure for years to come?

Deborah Stroman is a sports analyst and a professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. She discussed those issues and others with Aaron Keck this week on WCHL.

Carolina Panthers Rout Cardinals: Headed to Super Bowl

Cam Newton accounted for four touchdowns, two passing and two rushing, to lead the Carolina Panthers to a 49-15 rout of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship game.

The Panthers will play the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016.

Tre Boston, a Tar Heel from 2010 to 2013, recovered a fumble and picked off a Carson Palmer pass.  Larry Fedora, head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels’ football team, sent a message of congratulations to Boston on Twitter.

The Carolina Panthers defense forced six turnovers by Carson Palmer.  Palmer threw four interceptions and lost 2 fumbles.

The Cardinals defense allowed their most points this season.

Newton had plenty of help from the rest of the Panthers offense.  Running back Jonathan Stewart rushed for 83 yards.  Two Panthers, Greg Olsen and Corey Brown, had over 100 yards receiving.

This will be the second Super Bowl appearance for the Carolina Panthers.  In 2004, the Panthers lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Denver has been to eight Super Bowls.  They are tied for the record for most Super Bowl appearances in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and New England Patriots.  The Broncos have won two Super Bowls.

Stroman On Sports: A Big Week For Carolina

UNC football is preparing to wrap up arguably its best season ever, UNC basketball is back in the top 10 with Brice Johnson now leading the way, and the Carolina Panthers are still undefeated after beating the New York Giants (though all the postgame talk was about Odell Beckham’s on-field behavior).

Deb Stroman, sports analyst and Kenan-Flagler Business School professor, broke it all down this week with Aaron Keck on WCHL.

Stroman On Sports: 16-0?

The Carolina Panthers are 13-0 following another big win this weekend. They’ve clinched a division title and a first-round bye in the NFL playoffs. Is it time to sit Cam Newton and make sure he’s rested, ready and healthy for the playoffs? Or do the Panthers owe it to the fans (and themselves) to play to win every week, especially with a historic 16-0 season still on the line?

Deb Stroman is a professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and an expert on the business of sport. She discussed the Panthers – and other topics – on WCHL Monday with Aaron Keck.

Cam Newton and the #dabsquad

Today is Monday, November 23, 2015.  Cam Newton and the Panthers go 10-0 and we meet the #dabsquad.  Spiders invade Memphis and an English bulldog wave at a biker.


Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton ruffled feathers last week with a touchdown dance.

He does not care.

After beating the Washington Redskins in Charlotte Sunday afternoon, we met the #dabsquad.  Newton and a collection of teammates all got in on the act.  The Carolina Panthers shared the moment on social media.

The dance originated with Migos, an Atlanta-based hip-hop act and not with Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney.  Newton is originally from Atlanta and was encouraged to dab by his little brother.

Spiders invade Memphis

Residents in Memphis, Tennessee woke up this week to an horrifying unwelcome surprise outside their doors.

Millions of little spiders have infested the yards of the city residents. A photo shows what at first looks like morning dew covering the grass in a Memphis neighborhood, but a closer look reveals it is actually a spider web that runs half a mile long. Despite their sudden appearance in the neighborhood, experts say the spiders’ presence shouldn’t be of much concern.

Residents say seeing these creatures is anything but normal. In fact, they liken the eight-legged creatures’ presence to being in a horror film.

A Waving Bulldog

Meet Sweets.  The English bulldog was riding a bike and decided to wave at another biker.

DeAngelo Williams’ Marine Is Real

The Marine thought to be a fake after receiving a seat upgrade from Carolina Panther’s running back, DeAngelo Williams, is real.

WCHL shared the report two weeks ago with news of swirling conversations that the Marine was a fake. But, in fact, James Wesley Bolden served 25 years of active duty in the Marines, according to his family, and they say they’re very upset with the allegations.

After Williams shared the image and the news of the seat change through Facebook, people noticed something didn’t look quite right. WMC-TV in Memphis reports that a man approached Bolden and asked him if he was truly a Marine. When he didn’t get the answer he wanted, he yelled at him for disrespecting true patriots.

Bolden is 77 years old. His cousin, James H. Bolden—a police director in Memphis—says he suffers from dementia. He says that could be the reason for the medals being worn out of place.

Bolden’s cousin says the Marine enlisted when he was 17.

Williams tweeted WMC-TV’s news article Tuesday morning saying, “He’s a true marine!” When the reports first came out questioning the Marine’s legitimacy, Williams said, if he was a fake, it wasn’t going to stop him from providing the same upgrade to any member of the military in the future.

Five Carolina Panthers Players Will Feature In NFL Pro Bowl

CHARLOTTE– The NFC South Division Champion Carolina Panthers will have five players in representation at the 2014 Pro Bowl.

Linebacker Luke Kuechly, defensive end Greg Hardy, center Ryan Kalil, fullback Mike Tolbert and quarterback Cam Newton will all be making the trip to Hawaii Jan. 26.

First-time Pro Bowlers Kuechly and Hardy will headline for the Panthers’ top-ranked scoring defense.

“It’s an honor to be selected to the Pro Bowl. I’ve grown up watching the games at the end of the season, and it’s awesome to have a chance to be a part of it. I would like to thank the players, coaches and fans who voted for me. Our defense has played great this year and made this possible,” Kuechly says.

It will be Cam Newton’s second Pro Bowl appearance. He served as an alternate after his rookie season in 2011 when he was Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Tolbert has earned his first Pro Bowl selection by scoring a team-high seven touchdowns.

“It’s a big honor, because it shows all the hard work I put in pays off in the way I’ve been able to help my team win and by doing everything the coaches ask of me. It’s a great feeling,” Tolbert says.

This year, the Pro Bowl no longer contains the AFC versus NFC showdown that has been the annual tradition since 1971. Players will be assigned to teams through the Pro Bowl Draft on Jan. 22.

The Panthers host the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs.