Tattoos used to be a way to classify yourself as a "rebel," or some sort of tough guy who doesn't play by the rules. Not anymore. Today, if you don't have multiple tattoos, you're in the minority. Everywhere you look there's a sleeve of tattoos. At the local grocery store, at the park, definitely at the swimming pool.
Everyone has them, and they have a bunch. That's why eyebrows were raised this week when Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson retold a conversation he had with top-pick QB Cam Newton before he drafted him.
Richardson asked Newton if he had any tattoos. Newton said, "No, sir." Richardson said, "Good, let's keep it that way." The owner also discussed whether or not Newton should grow out his hair.
Does Richardson have a right to tell one of his players how they can and cannot express themselves? Isn't that taking away a constitutional right of self-expression?
Richardson does have the right to tell Newton to not get any tattoos. And Newton has the right to not listen to him.
It's clear why Richardson wouldn't want Newton to be heavily tatted. Would you want to pay someone millions of dollars to be the face of your multi-million dollar business sporting a neck tat?
You wouldn't, but in sports, that's par for the course. The biggest names in sports are covered in tattoos. Have you seen LeBron James or Shaquille O'neal? And NBA players are much more visible on the court than NFL players on the field.
Tattoos have become so commonplace in our society, I don't even bat an eye anymore. In fact, I enjoy trying to figure out what some of these guys, and gals, have inked on their bodies for life.
But I see Richardson's point in asking. I also think Carolina would have selected Newton No. 1 even if he did have tattoos. This was just a stance to try and get him to stay away from the ink, which clearly Richardson, who's 75, isn't a fan of.
It's not like Richardson has a no-tattoo policy. He'll be paying TE Jeremy Shockey this year for his services and Shockey's arms are covered, the only part of the body exposed in an NFL uniform.
This was a business move by Richardson to try and steer Newton into an ink-free body. After all, he hopes Newton will be front-and-center of Carolina's marketing campaign for the next decade. The Panthers want to relate to as many people as possible to grow their fan base. Wait...if that's the case, maybe he should have some tattoos.