Over two months ago, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton alerted the world to the dangers of “Ghost Followers” on Instagram – people who mention a photo in person but failed to provide the double-tap of validation first.
In Charlotte, the dedicated detective who investigates these fake-world faux-pas is a member of an elite squad known as as the Special Memes Unit.
OK, that group has one member. It’s me. I was there.
It was my first day on the job. I was sitting next to a spiky-haired pro named Joe Person – my partner on the beat and mentor.
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Little did I know I’d be the one mentoring him later that day. In this gig, anything can happen.
The Panthers were fresh off the bye, and our case was clear: Did Newton take a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, during the break? His Instagram posts implied it, but this young slinger plays it close to the custom-leather vest.
We were on it. Two sleuths working to crack the case of the century. Joe’s many skills involve real life, and do not include an Instagram account but do include asking his 24-year-old Pard to “ghost follow” players for clues.
So there I was. In the shadows of Newton’s account, adrenaline pumping. We had our lead.
I walked into the media room. Newton was there, and feeling ornery. Pink puff-ball-topped beanies can do that to a guy, if he lets ‘em.
He stepped to the podium and did the standard runaround. Forget football, fella, we’re on to you.
Joe asked the question, and Newton quipped back expertly. I tried to chip in, save some face, but Newton is, after all, a dual-threat. Ran right out of it, as you can see from the video.
It was the “ghost follower” heard around the world. My only regret is not preparing my Pard for the viral fallout that occurred two months later. In the long con, Newton came out on top. When the dust settled, there was video evidence and I was left explaining a “like.”
Sorry, Joe. You got memed.