It’s Super Bowl 50. I say that because many people like to use the phrase, “it’s 2016,” when talking about touchy subjects — as if we’re far enough advanced as a society to the point that we shouldn’t be having these conversations. In many respects, this NFL game isn’t just about the Denver Broncos versus the Carolina Panthers, it’s about Cam Newton versus Peyton Manning.
And if we want to take it one step further, it’s Cam Newton versus a bevy of critics.
Those critics will soon be silenced, because Cam Newton was just named the NFL MVP of the 2015-2016 season. USA Today reports that just before Super Bowl 50, Cam Newton was awarded the MVP after throwing 35 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions during this season.
Congrats to Cam Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP! pic.twitter.com/PZ1bK8l3Ck— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 7, 2016
But it’s not time to celebrate just yet, because Super Bowl 50 is about to be underway in a matter of hours.
The New York Times reports that Cam Newton got to talk about his perception as a black quarterback that enjoys celebrating touchdowns much like Terrell Owens used to do a few years ago in the NFL.
“I don’t even want to touch on the subject of black quarterbacks because I believe this game is bigger than black, white or even green,” Newton said during a press conference. “We limit ourselves when we label ourselves.”
After being challenged a little bit, he quipped back, “I wanted to bring awareness of that, but I don’t think I should be labeled as just as a black quarterback because there are bigger things in this sport that need to be accomplished,” he said.
Nate Scott, a writer at For The Win, got to shed some light on the criticism that Cam Newton runs into because of his race.
Cam Newton will be youngest No. 1 pick to start in Super Bowl since Orlando Pace (26 years, 91 days) for the 2001 Rams (via @eliassports)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 7, 2016
“People don’t like Newton because he is handsome and confident and refuses to act how they want him to act and because he is black. We want our athletes, especially our African-American athletes, to fit a role. We want — no, we demand — that they say the right things, that they act humbly and be deferential.”
To me, Cam Newton’s touchdown dances aren’t malicious at all. He’s having fun playing the game, he’s smiling. He’s nowhere near the level of other players that liked to blur the lines between touchdown celebrations and in-your-face showboating.
That’s why I don’t believe these attacks are warranted in the least bit. One of my favorite sports shows is First Take, and Stephen A. Smith said that nobody seemed to have an issue when Brett Favre was throwing snowballs after touchdowns or when Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers does the “discount double-check” dance.
Of course Cam Newton dabbed in his MVP acceptance speech https://t.co/3vWzOjC8rZ— Black & Blue Review (@BlackBlueReview) February 7, 2016
It’s true, and when we sit down and mull over that fact in our minds, it becomes increasingly clear just how hard some people have been on Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Do people dislike his touchdown celebrations? Sure. Do some dislike it because he’s a quarterback and quarterbacks shouldn’t act that way? Sure. Do some dislike it even more because he’s black? Absolutely.
It’s time to see it for what it is. Cam Newton is a quarterback that loves playing the game of football, and it comes through in his touchdown celebrations. Super Bowl 50 starts in a few hours, and we’ll finally get to see whether Cam Newton can hold back Peyton Manning to win his first Super Bowl Championship.
[Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]