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SB50: Cam Newton, the evolution of the black quarterback

Cam Newton (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Cam Newton (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

 

News flash, Cam Newton is black.

Cam Newton is  one victory away from having, a Heisman, National Championship, NFL MVP, and a Super Bowl Championship. Cam doesn’t plan to change who he is or what he says just because he’s preparing for the Super Bowl and all the hype that comes with it. The mainstream media wants to portray Cam Newton as the villain.

Newton has been a lightning rod for criticism for much of his career.

He was called immature and moody during his first couple of NFL seasons because he sometimes sat alone on the sideline with a towel over his head when the team was losing. Before this season, Cam was questioned about if he was a leader.

This season, he showed and proved he is a leader and a league MVP. The Carolina Panthers are 17-1, including playoffs. They have won 22 of their past 24 games (including playoffs) going back to a four-game winning streak to end the 2014 regular season. Cam Newton leads the league with 45 touchdowns – 35 passing and 10 rushing – during the regular season. Make no mistakes about it, Cam is the NFL MVP.

Unlike the Oscars, the NFL can’t deny Cam’s excellent season,  just because he is African American.

Newton will be the sixth black quarterback to start a Super Bowl. This is the fourth straight Super Bowl to have a black starting quarterback. The difference between Newton and those that came before him is he’s 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds and runs designed run plays out of the read option.

The world of sports mirrors society in many ways, especially in regard to the quarterback position in the NFL. While the rest of the NFL became integrated, the quarterback position was slow in that process. It wasn’t because there weren’t capable athletes to play the position, the quarterback position was seen as the Alpha position in the NFL, so of course it could only be held by white men. The stereotypes about black quarterbacks were similar to how black men in society were stereotype. They weren’t smart enough to play the position, they can’t read defenses and they were just runners.  White America poisons the mind of the fan by using the media as a conduit to spread their message of ignorance.

In 2016, your chances of being a successful quarterback in the NFL has nothing to do with your skin color, but your skill set, but how you are judged still has a lot to do with how you look in the mirror. He is a black man who isn’t bowing down to how white people want him to be. He is totally comfortable with who he is, specifically his blackness and that is emasculating to a lot of white people. So, they try to find reasons to knock him. How dare a black man not fit into the box we want him to be, who do he think he is?

There is nothing polarizing about Cam Newton. Cam is “Showtime.” He plays with the biggest, most infectious smile since Magic. Newton has popularized the head-nod “dab” celebration the way Magic mainstreamed the “high five.” If he was white he would be beloved by the masses. Is Tom Brady polarizing? He has a lot more drama going on around him than Cam. Is Peyton Manning polarizing? Funny we hear about the PED story, considering Peyton had a career scare with the neck injury a few years back, so it wouldn’t be out of nowhere to think he might have used PED.

Last week’s Newton vs. Russell Wilson showdown symbolized the crowning of a new era. The QB statistical king (Wilson) faced the consensus choice for league MVP.

Cam Newton is a symbol of the progress we’ve seen countless times in the sports world. The black quarterback has come a long way since the days of Doug Williams, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and a bunch of lesser names who performed when America was less at ease with a black man leading their favorite football team.

Hopefully one day, we can get away  from the term black quarterback. Cam wouldn’t be winning a Super Bowl for himself and Panthers but for the culture. He represents the culture, and that is significant on way deeper levels than reading a defense.

President Obama, symbolized hope for change in 2008. Cam is doing his part to continue just that.

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Jason Cordner
Jason is the Entertainment Editor as well as New York Liberty Beat Writer, Rutgers Football Beat Writer, and co-host of The Box Out, a basketball podcast for DoubleGSports.com.
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