When football players make a bonehead play, they get booed. When newspaper columnists boot one, they deserve to get yelled at, too.
I sure fumbled this one.
The column I wrote this week about Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood – with the intent of showing that cops are underpaid and under-appreciated for risking their necks for the rest of us every day – should have drawn a flag.
It was not Underwood’s idea to ask the Carolina Panthers to consider a donation to Chester County deputies, it was mine. My words were not clear. Underwood wades into keeping the public safe without any complaint.
Newton – who makes $57,000 a day for being the best football player on the best team, a great man with a great smile and an unending inspiration to millions – doesn’t owe anybody anything. Including any police department, and including me.
The column was a follow-up to another I wrote last summer, when I asked when Newton signed his new contract for $57,000 per day if he was worth more than Underwood, who makes $57,000 per year. I brought up then how these two men show what real leadership is to all of us.
That remains true today. Both are proven leaders whose actions speak stronger than any words.
Chester County is home to good and strong people. One was the late La’Darious Wylie, the 11-year-old Chester boy who in October was struck and killed by a car after pushing his little sister out of the way. I have written so much in The Herald about that young man’s selfless courage, and Underwood is among many who would like South Carolina and America to honor him.
Underwood runs Project Storm to try to keep kids out of trouble. He and his deputies worked unpaid overtime for months after gun violence rocked Chester County. They put on Halloween events and hunting trips for hundreds of kids. They receive no extra pay for doing it.
Out of his own pocket, Underwood brought a Pennsylvania boy to Chester after the boy thought a youth hunt event was in Chester County, Pa., not South Carolina.
Underwood asked nobody for anything in all those instances of going the extra mile. He didn’t ask the Panthers for anything, either.
The people who wear the uniform of the Carolina Panthers are paid extremely well for being superb at their jobs. The only danger they face is the possibility of injury on the field, and words from hostile opposing fans.
The people who wear the uniform of the Chester County Sheriff's Office are superb, too. They face danger that sometimes comes with bullets.
That’s what I was trying to say in my last column, with the intent to remind people of those who deserve more of our support.
I shanked the kick.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065