Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Conspiracy Theories For Fun And Profit!

The great thing about conspiracy theories is that they only have to make sense within their own context, which they conveniently create. Once you're inside the bubble, every fact becomes new evidence of the theory and every fact that disproves the conspiracy theory becomes evidence of a coverup, which ends up lending credence to the conspiracy theory all over again. This is how people find themselves believing that the Smithsonian Institute is actively engaged in a massive coverup to hide proof that giant half-alien hybrids colonized the US in the 5th century, among other less intellectually defensible positions. Never mind that it makes absolutely no sense, once you're convinced that those giant alien-human hybrids existed and learn there's no evidence, then logic (such as it is) immediately dictates that the evidence must have been destroyed. The alternative - that there never were any half-alien power forwards lurching across the landscape during the Moundbuilder period and the whole concept is loonier than a pile of Canadian currency - is unthinkable.

Sports fans, for their part, love their conspiracies. Frozen envelopes? Officials under orders to sabotage Sacramento in the playoffs? The Patriots getting special treatment? It goes on and on. They're unkillable, and unbelievable, and we're stuck with them because it is inevitable that one of your buddies buys into some flavor of this crap and will begin arguing it vociferously as soon as he gets some ranch dressing and a couple of beers into him.

With that in mind, here's a social experiment. We're going to look at a few facts and concoct, whole cloth, a ridiculous conspiracy theory out of them. Our theory is that there is no situation so stupid that it can't be recast as a conspiracy theory. If our concept catches, then we will have done our job and, coincidentally, made the world a worse place. But we're doing it for science.

(and if it doesn't, it just means readership is down this month because I was out of town for a week to give a lecture in Brazil and didn't post much. See how it works? PURE CONSPIRACY THEORY GOLD, PEOPLE.)

So with that in mind:

Fact 1: Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton's cheap rookie contract is coming to an end. The team exercised its fifth year option, but after next year, Cam's either going to get paid or get let go.

Fact 2: Cam's 5th year option was for over $14M, and he is loudly uninterested in the kind of team-friendly deal signed by SF QB Colin Kaepernick. 

Fact 3: If the Panthers don't find a way to extend Newton, he'll go on the market as a 26 year old QB with some historic numbers and 5 years of starting experience, while the Panthers will be back to square one.

Fact 4: Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is kind of a cheapskate, except when it comes to spending money supplied by the public.

Fact 5: This year, Newton has not played terribly well. This is in part because he is clearly playing injured, and in part because the Panthers' offensive line couldn't block stage directions for a revival of Auntie Mame.

Fact 6: Regardless of the fact that Newton is visibly hurt and he has less protection than a Death Star exhaust port, the Panthers keep running him out there. They do it in games that are long since decided, when the safe play would be to get their injured franchise player off the field so that nobody got in a shot that would turn one of his femurs into a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle.

Fact 7: Playing on one leg and behind a line that's less effective than the Maginot, Newton is visibly regressing, producing less of the numbers that tend to be useful when player agents argue for higher salaries.

Conjecture: With the season largely down the crapper and coach Riverboat Ron Rivera's job security not exactly rock-solid, it makes no sense for him to continually send the team's best offensive asset out to get clobbered unless he has been ordered to do so. A quid-pro-quo - you keep sending Cam out there and we won't fire your butt at the end of the season - might explain why Rivera's doing this; a similar arrangement seems like the only reason Rex Ryan still has a job, for example.

Conjecture: Why keep sending the franchise QB out there when he's clearly sub-par and putting up sub-par numbers? Well, those sub-par numbers mean less leverage for Cam at contract time. Sure, you're gambling that he might get his gall bladder forcibly dislocated through his left nostril, but if he's knocked out for the year then his numbers lock and you still have the upper hand in negotiations. And, you reduce demand for Newton on the open market by getting him the "injury prone" tag.

Conclusion: The reason the Panthers are running Newton back out there against any laws of good sense or mercy is to reduce his bargaining leverage so they can sign him to a below-market long-term deal. As soon as he signs on the dotted line, they'll pull him for medical reasons and let whoever his backup is these days - Jimmy Claussen? Tony Pike? Bobby Hebert? - play out the season behind the wall of Emmenthaler that serves as an o-line down in Charlotte. 

So there it is. Makes sense, doesn't it? Hard to argue against. The sort of thing you can maybe throw out there in the next bar argument...

And somewhere, in the distance, the half-alien sasquatches who colonized America for the sake of the Illuminati are laughing.

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