/blockbuster movie trailer announcer voice
IN A WORLD overtaken by sudden joy and ravaged by unexpected despair --
One man DABS.
Another man DOES NOT.
Rivals on the field -- icons off of it. Which hero will prevail now that the Ancient Sheriff is out of the picture?
Or this one?
The answer. Is revealed. Starting this fall. In stadiums everywhere.
/end cheesy intro
Rather than fall into a judgment-heavy trap of "Russell Wilson leads this way so he's better and look what a poor sport Cam Newton is," please allow me to offer the room-temperature take instead. It'll be your one chance to consume a non-clickbaity, non-spicy, non-inflammatory opinion: the young dueling QB's simply lead in different ways, because of who they are.
But not because of who they are deep down. We don't know if Cam is secretly a self-hating narcissist or a genuinely nice and generous guy; we don't know if Russell is too good to be true, or pretty much as advertised. Nope, because of who they are publicly.
What we do know is how they lead when the cameras are rolling. What we do know is what results their teams put on the board. What we do know is what they let us see.
And when my lyin' eyes squint through the foggy lens of personal observation, the main difference between RW and Cam reveals itself as this:
One guy reflexively takes the long view amid tough circumstances. The other guy reflexively doesn't.
After Atlanta: We'll be back stronger than ever. After XLIX: We win as a team, we lose as a team, we hash it out in Hawai'i, we Love Our Brothers. Wilson's public leadership style is usually to live outside the immediate moment, keeping the highs from getting too high and the lows from getting too low. (Note: NFCCG vs. Packers stands out as a notable exception.)
1-0 every frickin' week.
Every victory is a lesson; every defeat is one too.
The other QB uses his public platform to take the short view. He leads by living intensely inside the immediate moment, rendering the highs even higher and the lows even lower. The roller coaster analogy, while easy, fits here like a warm towel right out of the dryer. Life in the moment is exciting and bumpy, filled with shots of adrenaline interrupted by disorienting falls. Dread or delight await around the next turn. Sometimes both at once!
His team follows his lead. Just finishing a drive means joy will be let loose, unrestrained; in-game selfies celebrate impending wins.
Every victory is an Everest; every defeat is a Death Valley.
Their slogans might as well be:
Russ: "What's next?"
Cam: "What's now?"
Is it better to be one than the other? Ehhh. Hopefully it's clear by now that this post makes no judgment on each man's character. Because that's a pretty silly thing to do from a distance through the warped triple magnifying glasses of football, television and celebrity. Judging by their results so far, it's clear the story is unfinished. And it's clear to me either approach can produce results: Russ and Cam have combined to win the last three NFC titles. And they've each lost a big game along the way too, proving each approach has its limitations. You can only get so far on attitude. Sometimes life puts a Bill Belichick or a Von Miller in your path, and ouch.
Sure, Wilson has a Lombardi in his pocket. He is not just glad to see you. That title makes a huge difference, especially to those of us on this blog. But again, the complete story is far from told.
So yeah, if you must know, I'd rather have Russell Wilson in my corner. I like an even-keel in my quarterback. I like a guy who says the right things in public, win or lose. Who plays the media game and doesn't give any distraction the time of day. But... if I were a Panthers fan, I'd feel pretty good about my chances for the next few years. And I'd feel pretty good, eventually, about the thrill ride called 2015. I want to win.
More than I want to lose graciously, I just want to fucking win.
Besides, history moves along, and pays no heed to our narratives, our predictions, our supplications. The movie trailer guy from earlier has a few sequels to tell us about, like, for the rest of the decade at least.
Can't wait. As fans, each of us can choose to be Russy or Camlike whenever we want. It's our right. And if I were somehow -- preposterously, outrageously, impossibly -- one of them, I'd want that same prerogative.