Cam Newton is fast becoming one of the more controversial figures in the NFL, and this time, the anger he has attracted has more to do with his opinions on social issues than matters of football. Sufficing to say, the controversial nature of his persona is unlikely to impact NFL odds, especially seeing as a lot of the voices attacking him have little interest in football.
All this hullaballoo began when Newton revealed in a GQ interview that he thought America was beyond race now, and that a lot of the criticisms his exuberant playing style attracts had little to do with race.
Of course, that opinion is a little difficult to believe considering all the hyper-racialized comments people online are always leveling against Newton. It has become the norm for black people to rise up in his defense primarily against all manner of overt racially driven criticisms.
For these black people, Newton’s comments couldn’t have been more insulting, especially in light of all the protests and riots erupting across the country in response to police shootings of black men.
And it isn’t like Newton’s fellow athletes have remained silent on the issue, what with stars like LeBron James and Chris Paul having delivered powerful messages at the start of this year’s ESPY Sports award show supporting the efforts of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
So, why would Newton’s opinions vary so drastically from the position of his fellow Black athletes? It could be that Newton was simply trying to avoid the conversation in general.
Newton isn’t afraid of being himself, and he has often opted to speak his mind where other people might have kept their peace. He has admitted on more than one occasion that he wasn’t perturbed by the fact that his standing as an African-American quarterback scared a lot of people because they had nothing to compare him to.
Maybe, because of the black-and-blue nightmare that assailed the panthers, Newton felt compelled to simply run away, at least mentally, from the whole issue.
Cam Newton hasn’t made any new friends with his GQ interview. Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett was especially incensed by his comments, taking issue with every athlete that was happy to sit back and rake in dollars instead of taking a stand at the forefront of social change.
It could be argued that a lot of the NBA stars that have either contributed to the resolution of social issues or who have taken offense with Newton’s comments cannot begin to empathize with his situation, having never experienced the intense, racially loaded backlash Newton has endured during his NFL career.
No one has ever attacked LeBron for being too black; in fact, the NBA stars has become synonymous with criticisms about his egotistical and self-centered attitude.
Cam is tired at this point; sticking his finger into the electrical socket that is the race relations conversation in America will not do him or anyone else any good.
Considering the nature of GQ, Newton probably didn’t appreciate the way the interview veered from fashion and the like to a conversation about race relations. The backlash against Cam Newton is a little exaggerated. No one can doubt the fact that his heart is in the right place, especially considering all the work he has done to assist the poor and homeless.