There are a fair number of Carolina Panthers fans out there who have fantasized for years about seeing Jim Folsom in his tighty-whities.
That’s because, back in 2011 – shortly after the team bet the farm on Cam Newton by making him the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick – Folsom tossed this very-live grenade onto the very-unforgiving Internet:
“Cam Newton is a sure-fire bust,” he wrote in an opinion piece for the Bleacher Report website titled “Why Carolina Panthers’ New QB Is the Worst NFL Draft Pick Ever.”
“I am so certain of this,” Folsom continued, “that if he is the Panthers’ starting quarterback in 2016, I will buy a Cam Newton jersey and stand in the stadium parking lot in my underwear when the Panthers come to Tampa Bay and hold a sign proclaiming that Auburn rules over Florida and Carolina rules over Tampa Bay.”
Folsom went on to make a litany of other inflammatory statements, including “Cam Newton is no brainiac,” “He has no credibility; his word means nothing,” “Cam cannot hit the broad side of a barn with a football,” and “In five years, when … Cam Newton is riding someone’s bench, remember this article.”
Oh, Panthers fans remember this article, all right. And it’s the underwear part they’ve stayed stuck on.
Well, guess what? Despite the fact that, yes, Newton is not only the Panthers’ starting quarterback but also the odds-on favorite to win his first MVP title, Folsom has a message for those who have demanded he make good on his promise: Kiss my you-know-what.
“I’ve been putting up with Panthers fans calling me, and texting me, and threatening me, and talking (expletive) about my family, and how they’re gonna come down and kick my ass … for five years,” Folsom told me this week by phone from his home outside of Jacksonville, Fla. “I never said anything about coming to Charlotte. If they want me in Charlotte, they are gonna have to break open the piggy bank, because I am not showing up there for free. If people think I’m a (expletive) for that, that’s fine – I don’t care.”
Wait. Huh? I mean, what kind of journalist talks to another journalist like this on the record?
Just one thing, though: Folsom, 51, isn’t a journalist, by training or by trade. He’s just a regular old sports fan. (“That’s why the site is called ‘Bleacher Report.’ ”)
He says he had recently been laid off from his job as a sales rep for a construction company in Florida when he started contributing columns to Bleacher Report. He says the site “wanted somebody to write about why Cam Newton was gonna be a draft bust,” and he volunteered. An earlier version was less-incendiary, so Folsom says his Bleacher Report editor to make it “a lot more controversial.”
So he did, and the thing went viral.
The only way Folsom will make good on his promise, he says, is if Bleacher Report or Panthers fans pay for his travel from Florida to North Carolina. “All it takes is a couple bucks and a postage stamp. Do your thing. But not one of them has done a thing. So don’t give me this crap about ‘You don’t have the guts to show up.’ I got the guts to show up. You guys don’t have the guts to make me show up.”
Looks like some people are finding the guts.
Photo: David T. Foster/Charlotte Observer