Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Judging Cam Newton

It's 3 days since the Superbowl, and people are still discussing Cam Newton's behavior both on and off the football field.  And the discussion is not being confined to just the Superbowl, but it is seemingly spreading out to every single snap of the football this man has ever taken.  It seems people are now prepared to breakdown his entire career because of how he handled a single moment when he wasn't playing.

Lets cut  to the chase.  Cam Newton is being judged for representing a culture a lot of socially conservative people have a problem with, and that's really the whole of it.

Why is this happening?  I think the answer is obvious, but a lot of people either don't want to say it, or can't put it into words: Many Americans struggle with the way black people express themselves because in many ways it's meant to be a refutation of the way white people do.  Black expression has often come about at the expense of white expression, and for mainstream culture to acknowledge, and/or accept it, would force more conservative people to recognize often negative societal differences they've helped exacerbate.

Newton, like Allen Iverson (and others) before him, is a refutation of what white people have deemed to be "correct" and "acceptable."  Yet who is another person to judge a man when you've never walked in his shoes?  Iverson was told to wear a suit and tie because that represented what the NBA believed the audience viewed as "professional."  But when Iverson walked to grade school in the morning do you think his neighbors were grabbing the attache case and tucking a handkerchief into their lapel just before racing out the door to the office?    

Not likely.  

Iverson's experience was different, and he came to represent it as he saw fit.  He wore it on his sleeve; tattooed into his skin.  Newton has his own way of representing the person he is; the life he has lived.  

Yet the thing with Newton which makes him different from the stereotypical portrayal of a brash black athlete is he doesn't get himself into trouble, so the "trouble" has to be manufactured to fit the stereotype.  Yes, yes, he had issues in college, but as a professional football player the person he was then is a far cry from who he is today.

In order to find fault with the man you have to dig for it, maybe all the way back to his recruitment days.  Do we do this type of digging when it comes to other similarly popular white athletes?  I mean, how quickly was Peyton Manning's HGH accusation cast aside?  There was almost a collective movement within the media NOT to dig for more.  What if this were Newton?  Would it be a non-story?  Or would it have been the ONLY story before the Superbowl?  Would the NFL have announced an investigation into the story itself with the sole purpose of burying it?  

I've heard people mention Johnny Manziel as a counter-argument for how "white people are also treated."  Manziel is an alcoholic who quite possibly hits women.  Is that really the counter argument?

I guess we'll never know the answers to these questions.  Or, maybe we know everything we need to, and just won't say it.

The mainstream media may be liberal in their politics, but when it comes to sports and the way we assess athletes?  It's anything but.  

Lost in all of this is how we expect Newton to act after the worst loss of his career.  Because he's a "showboat" on the field, the expectation is he has to be equally expressive and available in defeat.  Why is that?  It's entertainment.  Who wants to entertain when they lose?  Is it somehow deemed classy and more acceptable that the winning quarterback is trying to dishonestly sell us a product he would likely never touch than it is for a guy to wear his emotions on his sleeve?  We'll accept the fake sales pitch over the real expression?  The guy who can't stop selling us shit on television every second of his life can't give us one moment of true expression?  Nope.  Forever the American pitchman.  

Sorry.  I'll take the guy walking of the podium every time.

Part of me seems to think if the roles were reversed, and Manning walked off the stage without speaking to reporters while Cam Newton was telling us he was about to polish off some Old English, the spotlight would still be in the same place.  


Let it be known I possess no "white guilt", a phrase often bandied about by closet racists.  I've done nothing wrong to feel any sense of guilt, nor am I surrounded by people who have.  What I sometimes may have is "white embarrassment", an emotion I'm sure people of other races often feel about their own as well.  An emotion which comes about because others may judge me because of the foolish actions taken by people who look similar to me.

I'm able to view the world through an honest lens, not scared to point out the realities of our world even if it results in someone else judging me.  

Like Newton, I'm comfortable in my own skin. 



  1. I don't like Cam Newton for the same reasons I don't like Johnny Manziel. It's OK to simply not like someone because of the way they act. Race doesn't have to be attached to it.

  2. It's fair to judge someone by how the act assuming you apply that standard to others as well. I don't like John Elway for refusing to play for a specific team. I get the feeling if a black Quarterback did that now he would be judged differently.

    Race doesn't have to be attached to it. I don't like Lebron James, James Harden, the LA Clippers, or Carmelo Anthony. Maybe my reasons are similar to yours.

    That said, race is often attached to it. Doesn't have to be. Just is.

  3. Fair enough. I'm sure there are some people who don't like Cam because he is black. But it's unfair to assume most if not all of it is racially driven. I don't think most people are racist... I do think most people dislike douchebags.

  4. It's about being able to dish it out but not take it, Dave. Plain and simple. Nothing racial about it. If you're gonna showboat your way through a season and a career (30-32-1 going into this season) you have to be able to lose graciously or people are gonna kill you for it. I believe if you don't wanna see him Dab, stop him. And the Broncos did that and then some. This is a man's league. Win or lose like you've done it before and will do it again. And his interview yesterday was just as bad.