At their first meeting, Richardson asked the star quarterback whether he had either of those things. Newton responded, "No, sir." Richardson said he'd like to keep it that way.
He told this to Charlie Rose of PBS during a recent interview. Rose said the owner sounded like Vince Lombardi.
"No, I just sound reasonable to me," he replied.
If you're frothing at the mouth right now getting ready to unload on Richardson in the comments section, let me stop you right here. Yes, he sounds like Ward Cleaver talking to Wally and the Beav. Yes, it's hypocritical because his team's star player for the past decade has tattoos all over his arms. It's not unfair, though.
There's a reason my buddy who has tattoos all over his arms has to wear long sleeves every day to work at his law firm, even in the dead of summer. There's a reason my girlfriend can't wear jeans to work. You have to adhere to the rules of your place of business. Cam Newton is getting $22 million over the next four years. You could argue he has less of a reason to complain about workplace restrictions than someone making a reasonable salary.* Surely getting some trite tattoo on his right bicep isn't worth upsetting the guy who signs your checks.
(* I'm deliberately ignoring the question of whether Newton is more or less marketable with tattoos/piercings or without. It's a moot point given Richardson's stance. For what it's worth, I can't imagine many people still care all that much.)
At the risk of sounding like my mother, I think Cam looks very nice with the clean look. If I had those arms I'd want to show them off too. The only thing I'd put on them is the occasional dab of moisturizer.
Nothing against tattoos, mind you. If that's your thing, do it up. There always have and always will be athletes with tattoos. The trend is bound to swing the other way soon, though. We've hit Pax Tattooa and the new thing (there's always a new thing) is going to be the clean look. Nothing stays in vogue forever. NBA star Kevin Durant got halfway there; leaving his arms ink-free but decorating his chest like a Photoshop project gone bad.
Here's the thing, though: It doesn't really matter what Richardson says as long as Newton wins. If he goes 2-14 this year, it might cause a stink if he shows up with a sleeve on his left arm next year. If Cam goes 11-5, throws for 20 touchdowns and runs for eight more, he can tatt up like Lil Wayne, get more piercings than this lady and declare that North Carolina barbecue is inferior to Kansas City's and nobody in Charlotte, especially Jerry Richardson, will care.
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- Jerry Richardson