Fox Sports – Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is the favorite to win the 2015 NFL MVP award, but he was asked in his Wednesday press conference why he still faces some level of criticism.
Newton, who has the 17-1 Panthers headed to the Super Bowl but is the subject of scrutiny for his outgoing on-field persona, told reporters he believes race is a factor in how he’s perceived.
I’ll admit right up front that I haven’t the first clue what Cam Newton deals with and that I’ve never walked the proverbial mile in his metaphorical moccasins. The only discrimination I’ve faced is the usual marginalizing all super handsome, physically-fit objects of desire have to overcome. That’s my cross to bear. But is Newton right in saying the fact he’s an African-American quarterback scares people?
I have zero doubt he’s heard some vile, racist crap. The Internet is a garden, filled with growing things that are beautiful and nourishing, but with all sorts of grotesque things crawling around in the dirt underneath. Unfortunately it’s part of going on social media. But it’s not limited to hatred toward African-American quarterbacks. That stuff is aimed at every high profile person. Ask any female in sports media or the gaming world.
So I’m not talking about individuals, I’m talking about the country as a whole. I’m speaking in generalities. The kind of generalizations that it’s fair to make. Millennials are more tech savvy than the elderly. African-Americans vote Democratic. America hates the New England Patriots. Those sorts of things. Is it really fair to say in general that we haven’t seen anyone we can compare Cam Newton to? In 2016?
Going just by what I see and hear, the country loves Cam Newton. First of all, it’s hard not to love a guy who’s having a probably unanimous MVP season, gone 17-1 and might be quarterbacking a team that will compare with the all time greats. Has anyone questioned his ability? His leadership? His character? If anything, I feel like he’s being embraced by a nation that is starting to run out of great, face-of-the-league type iconic QBs and is desperate for the next one. Newton appears to be that guy in ways Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and a few others haven’t been.
Besides, if Newton feels hated, I can think of a quarterback who’s represented the league as well as any quarterback ever has, and he’s reviled from New York to Hawaii. And Tom Brady is pretty Caucasian.
If anything, there are people who aren’t fans of Newton’s preening, Dabbing, end zone celebrations. But just as many people love it. Lord knows television can’t get enough of it. And he’s old enough and smart enough to know that such is the nature of doing signature, pre-rehearsed dance celebrations. They are polarizing as all hell. And if Drew Brees or Phillip Rivers did it, they’d get the same reaction. And nothing Newton has ever done is as universally despised as Johnny Manziel’s “Money Fingers” bit.
Again, this is 2016. Is a quarterback’s color really still an issue? For crying out loud, the first African-American quarterback was Frederick Douglass ‘Fritz’ Pollard of the Akron Pros, who went onto be the first black head coach in NFL history. The first of the Forward Pass Era was the aptly named Willie Thrower of the Bears in 1953. For the 1968 season, Marlin Briscoe was the starter of the Denver Broncos. And we are 27 years removed from Doug Williams winning the Super Bowl. And Newton was the Number One overall pick, as was Vince Young and Jamarcus Russell. So maybe I’m just being ignorant, but I sort of feel like the country has kind of moved on from the type of attitude Newton is describing here. Unless I’m wrong, and the most acclaimed, celebrated and admired football player of 2015 is somehow scaring everybody.
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