Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, has some people up in arms over his no tattoos and no piercings directive to first-round draft pick, Cam Newton.
"...There's something troubling about Richardson's position," says columnist Mike Florio. "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."
Well, yes, he can, Mr. Florio. But, if Mr. Richardson is paying Newton millions of dollars to toss the pigskin around, and, by extension, represent the Panthers team, then he should be able to make whatever demands he wants on Newton's appearance.
When did we get to thinking that we have the right to go around doing whatever we want to ourselves, as if no one else should should be allowed to tell us how to dress or act and that nothing should have consequences? If a man who wants to give you millions of dollars to work for him says, "No tattoos," you would be wise to say, "Yes, Sir." Also, "Thank you."
Full disclosure: I hate tattoos. Hate them. I think they are tacky and ugly and up to no good. Plus, no matter how edgy some ink might be on the tight rear end of a Tight End, no eighty-year-old man is going to look attractive when that ink has edged past cool and landed just below his knees. Skin loses elasticity over time, and one doesn't need reminders of just how thoroughly.
I'm not saying that people with tattoos aren't decent or intelligent human beings, or that a small tattoo automatically turns someone into a grimy criminal, but if you are walking around with a giant cobra etched on your neck, I'm going to judge you for it. And here's why:
You want to be judged.
Oh, stop acting so self-righteous. You do. Otherwise you wouldn't slap a gigantic picture of a snake on your skin where everyone can see it. If it really were personal to you, you would keep it personal and put the snake somewhere it could shade itself from broad daylight. Dear Diary, not Dear National Enquirer.
You want people to notice your tattoo, and it's not just because you think a reptile is a lovely way to commemorate the birth of a relationship. You like that feeling of moral superiority that tickles your taste buds when a stranger makes the snap judgment that your book is likely in tune with its cover.
"These tattoos don't reflect who I am as a person," the inked like to say.
Excuse me, but of course they do. Why else would you have them?
If clothing and piercings and skull and crossbones tattoos say nothing about your character, why not grab Grandma's old caftan out of the closet and wear that? Or tattoo "George Bush Forever" across your nose?
Like it or not, how we dress and what we draw on our skin is a reflection of who we are. And not only is it a reflection of who we are, it is a reflection of our families and the businesses we represent. And it influences how we will act.
So, I can't blame Mr. Richardson for wanting to protect his million-dollar investment by saying "No" to a bunch of permanent ink. A book is represented by its cover, like it or not.
Cam Newton would be wise to keep his cover signature free.