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Jerry Richardson to Cam Newton: No tattoos, no piercings


Appearing as guests on PBS’s Charlie Rose (thanks for the head’s up, SportsBusiness Daily), Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Panthers owner Jerry Richardson talked about a variety of issues. I’ll be posting some of the most interesting aspects of their discussion right here.

The first one relates to the pre-draft meeting between Richardson and quarterback Cam Newton. Though the topic was addressed by Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer in April, it’s worth repeating.

Richardson, who said that Newton “was dressed perfectly” for their meeting, was blunt. “I said, ‘Do you have any tattoos?’” Richardson told Rose. “He said, ‘No, sir. I don’t have any.’ I said, ‘Do you have any piercings?’ He said, ‘No, sir. I don’t have any.’ I said, ‘We want to keep it that way.’ . . . .

“We want to keep no tattoos, no piercings, and I think you’ve got a very nice haircut.”

Interjected the host: “You sound like a Lombardi.”

Said Richardson, “No, I just sound reasonable to me.”

The fact is that, over the years, Richardson has drafted and signed plenty of players who have tattoos and piercings, including tight end Jeremy Shockey. Apparently, Richardson is willing to tolerate those things when it comes to men who won’t become the face of the franchise. For someone like Newton, whom Richardson said has “athletic ability unlike anything that I have seen in quite a few years,” Richardson presumably wants him to do nothing that would potentially alienate the mainstream paying customers.

Regardless of the motivation, there’s something troubling about Richardson’s position. Though Newton can’t be disciplined for getting a tattoo or a piercing or multiple of either, Richardson has made his wishes clear -- and he’d likely be unhappy if Newton defies them.

But Richardson isn’t Newton’s father. Newton is a grown man, and he can do whatever he wants by way of decorating his body with ink or ice, or by growing his hair as long as he pleases. The notion that teams would try to make players into non-threatening billboards seems more than a little heavy-handed, even if it’s done in the name of “growing the pie” to the benefit of teams and players alike.

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