Given the Colin Kaepernick/Dolphins hat fallout, how are people going to react to Cam Newton saying he roots for a division rival 14 games out of the year?
Newton, the Carolina Panthers quarterback who people find ways to criticize even when it's not really deserved, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he grew up a Falcons fan and continues to root for them when he doesn't play them, even though the Panthers and Falcons are NFC South rivals. The Journal-Constitution quote comes from the Charlotte Observer's blog:
Q: The Panthers came pretty close to sweeping the Falcons last season. How tough is it playing your hometown team?
A: It's always a heavily critiqued game. ... I've always been a Falcons fan, and I'm still a Falcons fan except for those two times a year.
People flipped out when San Francisco quarterback Kaepernick was spotted wearing a Dolphins hat, and the Dolphins only play the 49ers once every four years. So, Newton can probably expect to hear about this one, whether it is deserved or not.
Newton was born and raised in Atlanta, so it's not surprising he grew up a Falcons fan. He has said before that he was a big Michael Vick fan.
Does it matter that Newton still wishes well for the Falcons when he isn't playing them? Probably not (although the conspiracy theorists are probably going to now rage about his third-down fumble that cost the Panthers a win at Atlanta last season). Him being a fan of the Falcons obviously hasn't affected how he has played with the Panthers.
Somehow, I don't think everyone will be so calm about Newton's public affinity for the Falcons.