Just a little over week ago Carolina Panthers star QB Cam Newton appeared to step out into rare air with statements that affirmed the unique nature of his talents as well as his very blackness.
Can it be that it was all so simply then?
Indeed, if left to stand on its own merits, free of censorship, Cam Newton’s comment would be one of the most poignant statements made recently by a professional athlete. Just in case you were hiding under a rock, here’s what he said last Wednesday: “I’ve said this since day one, I’m an African American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.’’
According to my interpretation of the words, Cam Newton was in the burgeoning stages of becoming an icon outside of football. Has there ever been a global icon that was also a football player? To be certain, there have been plenty who we would all consider international superstars. But an icon needs to be something more.
An icon needs to transcend his sport. The best way for a black man to do that is either through entertainment, charity or activism. With those words, it appeared as if Newton had finally become comfortable enough in his own shell to confidently step even further outside the comfort zone of popular public opinion.
The majority of black people didn’t even blink at his words. Most knew exactly where he was coming from.
And it’s not as if he didn’t have any reason to speak out, either. Cam has been dodging racial daggers cloaked as objective criticism since he was at Auburn.
However, there was most certainly all sorts of wacky headlines perforating the digital sphere in right-leaning spaces bemoaning the fact that this young man used his podium to speak about race and his experience.
But now, only a week later, we find this would-be spokesperson in the making has rescinded his prior declaration of black independence.
“I’m hoping to be a trailblazer to give an avenue not only to African-American quarterbacks but athletic quarterbacks as well,” Newton said. “You can be Caucasian. You can be any type of ethnicity outside of African-American and that's what I was trying to preach.”
Dang, Cam. You didn’t have to come back and remix a hit track. It was great just the way it was. But it’s hard out here in these mean NFL streets.
Especially when you’re a black football player who is trying to make himself marketable on a team that sits in the heart of Old Dixie, and you’re also attempting to pave the way for young men from similar circumstances.
Indeed, it isn’t entirely fair for one to expect a 26-year-old athlete to pick up the baton of black respectability and social consciousness, but it would be nice for brothers to not have to apologize for or restate a viewpoint that was spoken in truth and with no malice.