Rosemary Plorin and her nine-year-old daughter attended Sunday’s NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tennessee Titans, their hometown team. A few hours later, Plorin typed up a letter to Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton about his celebrations during the game. She posted it on her Facebook page and sent it to us Sunday night.
The letter was intended to be a commentary on sportsmanship, not a treatise on culture or race. But as so many others have learned before her, once you hit the send key, you lose control over what you thought was yours.
We published Plorin’s letter Tuesday morning. We don’t have a problem with the way Cam Newton celebrates, but we thought the letter offered a perspective on Newton that some, including people in Charlotte, share.
Within hours it went viral, and Rosemary Plorin was not Rosemary Plorin anymore. She was Tennessee Mom. She was an internet meme, a canvass on which people could offer their thoughts on sports, culture and race.
Or they could just answer her scorn with theirs. Plorin was called an awful parent and a racist, plus a lot of things less printable than those. One of the classier responses, however, came from Newton.
“Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. Everyone is. You can’t fault her for that,” he told reporters Wednesday. “If she feels offended, I apologize to her, but at the end of the day, I am who I am. It is what it is.”
I had emailed Plorin earlier Wednesday and invited her to share any thoughts she had. She was initially hesitant to make things worse than they already were. This morning, she emailed this:
“I watched the video of Cam Newton responding to media questions about my letter to him earlier this week. I really appreciate his comments and his respect for my thoughts, and I was impressed with the sensitivity and graciousness with which he spoke. I am sorry I didn’t understand him better until this week. It is clear from his remarks that he recognizes his leadership role, both on and off the field, and that he truly cares about the kids watching him. I respect his comments just as much as he did mine, and I wish him nothing but continued success on the field and in life.”
Peter St. Onge