In addition to being set up for failure by the media, taken to task for his candid and honest responses to issues plaguing the black community, snickered at for losing in the Super Bowl and turned into the Catch-22 of the 21st century, Cam Newton has had to live with an offseason of regret and the recurring nightmares of a Super Bowl loss.
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The 2016 NFL season pops off tonight with a rematch of last year’s Super Bowl 50 extravaganza between the league's charismatic and enigmatic Young Gun and Wild Cowboy Von Miller’s Denver Broncos.
In Thursday night's lower stakes remix, Peyton Manning has already dipped off into the sunset, reputation in tact, on and off the field. He’s handed his unfillable shoes to Trevor Siemian, a 2015 seventh-round longshot out of Northwestern, who beat out veteran Mark Sanchez and 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch for the chance to face a nasty Carolina defense.
The world’s greatest signal caller is salivating at the opportunity to get a crack at the champs, but an opening season win is not going to satisfy the sixth-year QB’s thirst.
“Every single day (I thought about the Super Bowl),” Cam told ESPN in a recent interview. “It was...if only I would have made this play...or if only we did this...but there’s no need to keep dwelling on the past because we have an opportunity to change it.”
His dynamic play on the field has already gained him a legion of fans and fame, and with that comes criticism of an equally powerful nature. Newton was riding high on the NFL gravy train before stumbling in the ch’ip.
His MVP celebration was short-lived as his first Super Bowl appearance turned into Peyton Manning’s auspicious farewell and Miller’s pay day. Instead of being a shining moment for a rising, young QB who overcame some early mishaps in college and was called immature and moody during his first couple of NFL seasons because he sat alone on the sideline sulking with a towel over his dome, it became another crossroads in the ever-evolving life of a Black American superstar.
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Before the Super Bowl, Newton had become the face of the NFL. He was finally getting that Peyton Manning-Tom Brady love. Unfortunately, he still wasn’t getting the Manning-Brady pass.
The aftermath of his brief and terse Super Bowl postgame comments drew the ire of a certain demographic of social media hatemongers who turned on him quickly. Some members of the black community weren’t feeling his sour grapes either as they have their own standards of what Newton should and could be for their communities.
They wanted an eloquent, heartfelt summation of the game and the season. They wanted to see him take blame and promise to come back and win next year. He chose to keep it real. It was what Hollywood wanted.
At that moment, it became clear that Newton had reached the point in his career where he was damned if he do, damned if he don’t.
Actually, his entire season -- his ascension to No. 1 QB in the league -- was met with resistance and hatorade that QBs of the past never encountered. However, Cam, has this special ability to capture people with his smile, sensibilities and likeability. He's also brutally honest at times and eventually the world will come to respect that.
If anyone can burst through walls of hate and unify teams, nations and people of different cultures, it’s a guy like Cam who refuses to be anything but an American boy playing the sport he loves for a living, using it as a platform to help people and never forgetting his fans or his teammates.
Hating on him for his stylistic celebrations, which has been an accepted, marketable and crowd-pleasing part of the NFL for over 40 years now, didn’t stop him.
This is what hollywoodlife.com had to say about Cam retiring his Dab dance for 2016.
"He may be retiring the move because of the negative feedback it received. Cam’s dab outraged conservative moms and sports critics who saw the dance as a symbol of poor sportsmanship, arrogance, and not the action of someone who is a role model to young children."
Absurd lingo like that certainly didn’t stop Cam from giving his touchdown balls to kids, visiting sick children in hospitals or making dreams come true for people who got a raw deal in life.
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The higher he rises in his profession, the more praise and criticism he’s going to receive. With everything that’s already on his plate as far as being an ambassador for the NFL and a growing marketing cash cow for the league, and a QB facing danger every week, issues of race have taken the sports world by storm and Cam is plunged into the middle of the racial discussion.
And when Cam opens his mouth, there’s always someone who isn’t thrilled with his response.
He’s either too militant with it for some fans, like when he said, "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." Or not aggressive and condemning enough for African-Americans in his comments about cop killings, protests and the like.
Cam doesn’t want to be Huey Newton in cleats. If Colin Kaepernick chooses that path, then obviously that was his destiny. Cam is on an MJ tip, but he hasn’t forgotten his people. He still has the swag, the understanding and the compassion for the black experience in America and he has the street credibility. We always want our greatest celebrities and most transcending personalities to share our views.
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Sometimes they are a step ahead of us, like when Cam started “Dabbin'.” It became a worldwide sensation, not just a football celebration. He brought more attention to black culture than 100 protests could. That dance went from local to international because of Cam and the inclusive way he does his one-two.
He has another dance TD dance coming this season, which is sure to light a flame in the dance world.
Besides, somebody has to be invited to the White House to represent us if Trump becomes President. A militant stance on an issue that is specifically a “black” issue doesn’t fit with his All-American, all-encompassing flow. We all have different roles to play in this struggle for equality in America. It doesn’t have to be a mission built on divisiveness.
Cam will get another shot at the Super Bowl and he will continue to build his brand while doing his part, in his way, to contribute to the African-American community. He probably feels like he can do more for “his” people by continuing to stay neutral on hot racial topics, while still acknowledging his love for his blackness and his dedication to bridging races, ethnicities, genders and religions through his enthralling stature on the football field and the way he relates to people.