carolina panthers

Cam Newton’s Dabbing Provokes Innovation in Moralizing

Carolina Panthers v Tennessee Titans
Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The National Football League’s Carolina Panthers are 9–0. Despite that unfortunate fact (if your hometown is Atlanta, Tampa Bay, or New Orleans), we live in a wonderful world because of what occurred in their ninth win — against the Tennessee Titans — and the response to said gorgeous event.

The Panthers’ quarterback is Cam Newton. He’s the guy you love to hate, a brat in the most endearing sense of the word, the athlete that — if he were on your side — you would irrationally defend until the end. But if he’s not your guy — if he’s going up against you — you fear his success, and you loathe what he’ll do should he succeed. His go-to move is to faux-rip his jersey in half, to signify that he’s Superman, showing the world his magical S. When your team is losing to Cam and he does this and then flashes that annoying Kool-Aid smile, you want to go to, book the soonest flight to Charlotte, break a leg off one of those airport rocking chairs, take an Uber to Bank of America stadium, and then club his big toe, all before he leaves the end zone.

But when he’s beating up on another team, and you’re enjoying that team getting beat up on, you can’t help but smile — especially when he’s doing his other signature move, the dab. Here it is deployed against the Titans:

It’s hard to get mad at Cam when he’s doing the dab. And yes, that move — the head-down-to-elbow thing that is the best move one can do at this moment in history — is called the dab, or dabbing. Like most cultural movements of this millennium, dabbing was birthed in Atlanta, popularized by Migos (see: the songs “Bitch Dab,” “Dab Daddy,” “Look at My Dab,” and, of course, “Trap Dab”) and then really popularized by the video “Where Ya At,” featuring producer Metro Boomin, DJ Esco, and rapper Future doing groundbreaking dab work on an undisclosed roof in postapocalyptic Bushwick.

None of this is important, however. What’s important is what happened, ACD (After Cam Dabbed).

An opinion piece was published in the Charlotte Observer Tuesday morning by a Titans fan. But not any Titans fan — a mother Titans fan. And not just any mother Titans fan — a mother Titans fan who decided to air her grievances about Cam’s antics through the mouthpiece of her 9-year-old daughter.

What “daughter” had to say about Cam’s celebration will change your life.

My daughter sensed the change immediately – and started asking questions. Won’t he get in trouble for doing that? Is he trying to make people mad? Do you think he knows he looks like a spoiled brat?”


I guess he doesn’t have kids or a Mom at home watching the game.”

And when #daughter would bring up her wise-beyond-her-years respectability politics, Mom would be right there to make sense of it all. But sometimes she just couldn’t.

I didn’t have great answers for her, and honestly, in an effort to minimize your negative impact and what was otherwise a really fun day, I redirected her attention to the cheerleaders and mascot.”

I am not here to slander this woman. I gain no joy by piling on. And I am also not here to defend Cam — the Panthers are leading my Atlanta Falcons in the division by three games, and I refuse to acknowledge their dominance.

But what I can’t shake about this opinion piece is the amazing literary tool that is speaking your truths through your child. It’s beyond brilliant.

If you’re mad about something, but you don’t want to say it yourself for fear of the backlash that comes from being a tired old square that doesn’t like to see change in the world, people being themselves, or the status quo tear at the seams, just say your child said it.

I can’t believe it’s taken us this long, as a society, to realize the glory of this trope. Here are some examples that I hope to see pop off in the coming weeks:

So, I was pushing my daughter on the swing, right. She was having fun, but I could tell there was something on her mind. And then, suddenly, she turned to me and said, ‘Mom, why did Hillary keep using her personal email? Didn’t she know it was a no-no and that if caught she could get sent to time-out?’ I didn’t know what to tell my daughter that day — the nerve of that privileged woman — and I never will.”

And just like that, an endless debate is settled.

So, I was driving in scenic South Carolina and my son couldn’t stop looking out the window, every second a new stretch of land he’d never seen. Such a curious boy Blaine is. Pulling off at an exit, we stopped at a gas station, and he pointed at a flag. ‘What a beautiful flag that is, Mommy, with the blue X and the stars inside the blue, and the red on all four sides — wow, it feels so much like a representation of Southern pride, not a symbol of racist tyranny in the region,’ he said, buying a Snickers bar and a Bible. At that moment, I held him close. He was so young, so pure. He was right, but soon he’d learn that the world would tell him he was wrong.”

Oh, hello, Confederate flag on the $20 bill.

So, I took my daughter to the mall, and we passed by four stores, all of which were targeted at women. Sharon stopped to tie her shoe and then looked my way and hugged me. In this precious father-daughter moment, I asked Sharon what was wrong. ‘Daddy, call me crazy, but I feel like there’s a war on men a-brewing.’ My eyes welled up with tears. As a woman, my 2-year old daughter was so wise, so progressive — because at her young age she already knew the truth. But she wasn’t exactly correct: The war on men wasn’t just a-brewing. We were living it.”

Take to the streets and join the All Men Matter movement.

Thank you, mother Titans fan and daughter, for showing us the way.

Newton’s Dabbing Sparks Innovation in Moralizing