When I grew up playing sports in my hometown of Spring Valley, New York your attitude and body language was just as important as your game itself. Not only did you not want to lose the game, you also didn’t want to lose your respect or confidence. This is the culture of playing sports in a working-class neighborhood. We talked trash, would push a guy around, scream in his face … anything to try and mentally take a guy out of his game as much as physically. It was never personal but always business.
For high school I got shipped off to a wealthy suburban town in New Jersey, where the sports culture was completely different. All of a sudden I found myself getting technical fouls for my behavior or parents of opponents became upset asking why that kid was “taunting” her son. The same tough lovin’ I came up on was now the reason I was labeled a problem child.
So when the world seems to have an issue with Cam Newton’s attitude, I ask why?
When I see Cam let his victorious grin spread across his face or when he dabs in the end zone, I understand it. I can relate to it. So when he made the comment of “I’m an African-American QB, that may scare a lot of people,” I understood that, too. Cam wasn’t necessarily speaking about his actual race, as we have, of course, had Black QB’s in the past, but the culture that he brings along with him.
The Superman poses, the dancing, the extreme confidence, etc., offend and, in all honesty, intimidates people. We saw this happen a couple years ago in the run up to the Super Bowl with Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch, except we were a little more comfortable with it (admit it) at the end of the day because they are not quarterbacks.
The real reason we uplift and celebrate Cam so much is because for years and years Black athletes were steered away from it in their youth being told to play a more “realistic” or “usual” position like a running back or receiver. Stereotyped by our athleticism while simultaneously questioning our intelligence. At one point the Black man wasn’t even considered intelligent enough to handle the position in itself. The quarterback is the face of the entire team; he is the leader. Truth be told it makes everyone a bit more comfortable if the guy who controls the entire fate of the team is a “well-mannered” white dude, the same way a movie has a better chance of commercial success if it has a white guy in the starring role.
So what can we do about this?
Stop worrying about his dance moves. Stop worrying about his eccentric camouflage suits. Stop worrying about him having a child out of wedlock. Stop trying to control Cam and make him assimilate into what you think a QB should be.
Worry about his play on the field because if you haven’t been paying attention, he has a good chance to make history. Newton has already led the Panthers to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2003 and could become the first quarterback and second player (Marcus Allen) to win a Heisman Trophy, college football national championship, NFL MVP award and, come Sunday, a Super Bowl win.
Recently, I hit up the 2016 X Games in Aspen, Colorado and, aside from eating snow on the slopes and being amazed at the Big Air jump, I caught up with Run The Jewels. Killer Mike, of course, had some enlightening input on the entire Cam Newton situation, as well. He pointed out how we cheered Hillary Clinton for doing the dab, but then Cam got shamed for the same behavior.
Check out Killer Mike's comments below.
(Do it for the culture Cam!)