Cam Newton Will Catch a Touchdown Pass This Season
Why my prediction will come true, and why it's not a big deal if it doesn't
I'm calling it now. Cam Newton will catch a pass for a touchdown for the Carolina Panthers this year.
I know. Cam is a quarterback. But Carolina runs the wildcat offense every once in a while. He's lined up in the slot a couple of times over the last three seasons. Armanti Edwards used to play quarterback at Appalachian State. Cam's a beefy guy. I bet he gets open. I bet Armanti lobs it up for him in the corner of the end zone. I bet it happens.
I'll probably be wrong. But you'll have to wait until the end of December to find out.
I'm making this prediction because ESPN's Jalen Rose predicted, somewhat cheekily, that Charlotte Bobcats owner, NBA legend and cigar enthusiast Michael Jordan would come out of retirement. For one game. For the Bobcats. Watch the video. Bill Simmons stares at him hard before saying, incredulously, "Are you serious?"
"Yes," said Rose.
"My God," said Simmons. He quickly pointed out that the NBA would have to waive a rule that prevents owners from playing. He started to go over the reasons why a move like that might make sense.
"See, the thing about you is, you know things," Simmons said, pointing at Rose, who laughed:
The video was posted yesterday. As of now it has more than 268,000 views. It sent some people into a tizzy. Could Jordan actually play? There's enough video out there showing a somewhat competent 50-year-old Jordan still able to shoot and so on. I mean, it probably won't happen. But it could happen.
There is this sly little thing you can do to get attention in sports media: make an outlandish but heartwarming prediction, one that gets people talking, and then hope that the actual resolution to said prediction happens far enough into the future that if you're wrong, nobody will remember. I'm sure that somebody will take it upon themselves to call out Jalen Rose at the end of the Bobcats season or sooner, but it will probably be in the form of a tweet or something short and disposable that nobody will care about anyway because really? Are we still talking about something Jalen Rose said eight months ago?
It's a case where the risk (somebody says you were wrong about a farfetched prediction) is far outweighed by the potential reward (Jordan actually plays, Rose becomes The Oracle of Delphi). It's the same reason why you buy a Powerball ticket. You're risking only two dollars to potentially win millions. You get something to talk about for that day ("The numbers correspond to my kids' birthdays!"). When you lose, you just shrug your shoulders and go on with your day. Nobody ever comes up to you and says "Your inability to predict the correct Powerball numbers erodes your credibility. Also, you were wrong about the cosmic significance of numbers associated with your children."
Deadspin has consistently pointed out this strategy of ESPN's, which is to turn a pundit's outrageous assertion into an actual news story that gets reported over the course of a day or two. It gives you a headline that you're almost certain to click on (Rose: MJ will play for the Bobcats). And it gets you talking about Jalen Rose and ESPN. It's a hot take. People click on hot takes. They're starting to confuse them with scoops. What does Jalen Rose know? Does he know something I don't? He laughed when he said it. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Predictions are easy. They get people talking. They tap into your dreams. It is far simpler to imagine what might happen that to actually keep track of what actually does happen. It's easy to create a bigger story from a shred of evidence. The Bobcats need publicity. I bet Jordan plays.
So it's with a big shrug that I wearily point out the first person to be right about the Panthers' decision to trade Jon Beason wasn't a high-fallutin' NFL reporter, nor an Observer beat writer. It was the anonymous @CelebsInCLT Twitter account, which had the news long before it was confirmed by the people who confirm such things before they're confirmed. Today, everybody's pointing out how credible @CelebsInCLT is because they predicted that the Panthers linebacker was being shipped off to the New York Giants. If @CelebsInCLT had been wrong, then meh, no big deal. It's just a Twitter account. But he wasn't wrong. All day I've been wondering. How did he know? How solid was his information? How did he beat everybody else? Did he just get lucky by reporting a rumor? Was he basing it on a shred of evidence? Or did he know for sure?
And here's the thing. @CelebsInCLT was right about Ryan Lochte too. I guess I'll never shake my head at another Emily Maynard sighting again.
Of course, we've seen what happens when people have a momentary lapse of credibility. Last September, a Channel 9 reporter sent out tweets saying the Yankees' Robinson Cano had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Nobody else was reporting it. He was sure of it. Until he wasn't. But by that time the rumor had spread and the Cano himself had to deny it and the reporter lost his job. And there's a chance that people actually will remember your prediction when it doesn't come true. Especially if you're a Carolina Panther. Especially if you put your prediction in a full page ad in the Charlotte Observer.
I might be right about Cam Newton. I bet he does catch a pass. I bet he does score a touchdown. Until it happens, mention my name. Link to my story. And if you think I'm wrong? Just wait.