Over the last year, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has turned himself into one of the most polarizing figures in all of sports. From his celebrations on the field, to his pouty post-game press conferences after a loss, media and fans alike have grown to feel very strongly about Newton.
During the days leading up to Super Bowl 51, Cam was asked about those strong criticisms from certain people and the Panthers’ quarterback claimed that it had to do with his color and the position he plays.
“I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing they can compare me to,” he told reporters.
Cam Newton recently did an interview with GQ for the magazine’s September issue and he was asked about his opinion on whether racism is part of the reason he’s criticized so harshly. His answer may surprise you.
“It’s not racism,” Newton said. “Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion. I don’t want this to be about race, because it’s not. It’s not. Like, we’re beyond that. As a nation.”
How does one guy’s opinion change so much in a six-month time frame? While he didn’t necessarily use the word racism in his comments before the Super Bowl, saying that an African-American quarterback is scaring people certainly insinuates that there’s at least some level of racism that exists in the world.
And now, we’re beyond that as a nation? One would like to think so, but that doesn’t seem to be the case especially after what just happened with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
In case you missed it, Kaepernick has been criticized for refusing to stand for the national anthem prior to the 49ers’ games because “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
As for Cam Newton? Well, he was asked about his feelings on Kaepernick’s decision and he didn’t exactly give a straight answer, according to Vibe.
“You know, a lot of scrutiny happens when athletes start talking about, you know, race, but the truth of the matter is we gotta do right by each other. No matter what color we are. …”Who am I to say ‘Colin, you’re wrong’? And who am I to say ‘Bro, you’re right’? Because we all, you know, we all have the right to think whatever we wanna think. And I respect that by everybody.”
While many people are killing Cam for giving a generic answer and not really taking a side, it was a situation where Newton can’t really win. If he agrees with Kaepernick, then he’s going to be met with the same criticisms that have faced the 49ers’ quarterback. At the same time, if he disagrees then there’s going to be a large portion of the country that will be angered over that as well. It was a no-win situation for Cam.
Newton did finally seem to admit that he understood racism is still a problem in our country.
“How does one-eighth of an inch — something so small — be the difference in such a big (subject)? And that’s the thickness of our skin: one-eighth of an inch. And under that we’re all the same color. You know? And that’s the big picture,” Newton said.
[Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]