This past Sunday, Carolina Panthers quarterback
Cam Newton told the assembled post-game press that he, his coaches, his teammates, and even the fans started to get "butt-tight" as the team nearly blew a 31-0 lead to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Playoff game.
In a new article at TheWeek.com, I argue that Newton unwittingly created a perfect metaphor for the sinking feeling of self-conscious dread brought on by an awareness that all-but-certain victory is slipping away before your eyes.
While the sports comparisons are many, there are also political and real-world applications for becoming "butt-tight":
Butt-tight happens outside of sports all the time. For anyone who has ever felt like they've found "the one," but fears they'll be discovered as a charmless bore at any moment: butt-tight. You've spent months writing your thesis but are sucking air at the prospect of completing the bibliography: butt-tight. You're a presidential candidate with a double-digit lead but you find yourself prone to ill-timed gaffes so you rely on your well-worn stump speech? Butt-tight is a killer for established political campaigns, too.
It's not really born of the fear of success, but more likely the fear of failing when success has already been all-but-earned. You don't play butt-tight when you're in the heat of a contentious battle, it's a drain on the life-force and a blinding distraction. It is a tension born of plenty, when you've built a lead too big to fail, but all appears to be being lost right before your eyes.
Read the whole thing here and watch the relevant moment of Newton's "butt-tight" press conference below.