SAN FRANCISCO, CA–Stereotypes have never been a friend of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. That’s because just about everywhere he turns, Newton simply breaks them. You’re not going to conveniently define him as a black quarterback. That’s too simple of a label to attach to him. As far as Newton is concerned, labels are for the birds.
“I don’t even want to touch on the topic of black quarterback, because I think this game is bigger than black, white or even green,” Newton said addressing the topic during a Super Bowl 50 press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 2. “So I think we limit ourselves when we just label ourselves just black, this, that and the third. I wanted to bring awareness because of that, but yet I don’t think I should be labeled just a black quarterback, because it’s bigger things in this sport that need to be accomplished.”
Newton has proven himself to be a lot more than a bonafide NFL quarterback. He’s been pretty special since he first stepped foot in an NFL stadium as a starting quarterback, going for 18, 263 yards and 117 touchdowns through the air.
Oh, yeah, when you add up the 3, 207 yards and 43 scores that he has produced running the football in his five NFL seasons, one might reach the conclusion that Newton is having a funky good time as a dominant force in the league. His passing efficiency to go along with his running production has made Newton the ultimate weapon at the quarterback position.
Being a dual-threat quarterback has proven to be successful in recent years as evident by Newton, along with Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers, all advancing to the Super Bowl stage.
In recent years Newton, Wilson, Kaepernick, Teddy Bridgewater, Michael Vick, Tyrod Taylor and Robert Griffin III have been effective in ripping apart the notion that black quarterbacks can’t thrive in the pocket. Newton’s passing totals of 3, 837 yards and 35 touchdowns is just the latest illustration on that point.
“I think we shattered that a long time ago,” Newton said.
What also has been debunked a long time ago is that big quarterbacks can’t move. Newton can move, and then some. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds of well-put together compound mass and muscle, Newton has the physical equipment of a linebacker or defensive end. His playmaking ability, however, separates Newton from a lot of signal-calling sloths that operate under center in today’s NFL game.
Newton represents the new breed of quarterback, a hybrid between runner and passer, which has helped him and the game itself to evolve.
“I have been around a lot of quarterbacks and coached a lot of quarterbacks, and I think just physicality is the biggest thing he brings to the table – his ability to run the football, which a lot of quarterbacks have,” Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “But I think the fact that he is so big and he is a physical runner-almost like a running back, whereas a lot of quarterbacks that, in my experience, have tried to run the football and done it successfully in college but not at the pro level, the biggest reason is their size. It’s not just his ability to run the football. He has a great feel for the game. He has a fast mind. He sees things extremely well on game day. He does a great job utilizing the personnel that we have around him.”
When you think big, mobile and good, Randall Cunningham, Aaron Brooks, Daunte Culpepper, Ben Roethlisberger, and Andrew Luck come to mind. Newton has taken that concept to a different level in leading the Panthers to a Super Bowl 50 dance with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. You can’t pigeon-hole Newton into some neatly tucked away box. He won’t won’t let anyone put him there, including the race-baiters and haters.
“I’ve said numerous times that I play to have a stage that people will listen to, and I pray to God that I do right by my influence,” Newton said during his Feb. 2 press conference. “So when you ask me a question about African-American or being black and mobile, it’s bigger than that, because when I go places and I talk to kids and I talk to parents and I talk to athletes all over, and they look at my story and they see a person, African-American or not, they see something that they can relate to. They see a guy who went a different route than just going to a major Division I school and flourishing there. Yeah, I made mistakes. It’s plenty of people; if you guys had a resume of things you made a mistake from the age that you was 13 on to the average age right here now, is what, 46? Just teasing, but I just wanted to become relatable. It’s bigger than race.
“It’s more so opening up the door for guys that don’t want to be labeled, that have bigger views than say, well, I’m in this situation. I’m limited in this environment right now, but I also want to be an artist, I want to be a poet, but I don’t have the means to necessarily do the right things at that particular point. So, for me, I’m living the dream that I’ve always envisioned myself living when I was eight, nine, 10 years old. I would always write down on career days, I want to be a football player. But yet my teacher used to always say, ‘Yeah, but you can’t put all your eggs in one basket.’ I remember coming to tears, telling her, ‘No, I really want to be a football player. I’m going to be a football player.’ And so these are for the people that dream and believe that no matter what another person may say, they know what they want to be and when they’re actually living it out like they want to. As for me, I just want to give all of those people hope.”
Newton, in his own unique way, has done that and more. When you talk about touchdown celebrations, there’s not too many precious moments on the football field that will outdo Newton and his teammates lighting up young children faces when they hand them a football after making it into the endzone.
Then there is the dab dance that Newton has brought front and center into America’s living rooms. Whether you like it or not, it seems like everyone is dabbing these days, from the streets of Atlanta to the red carpet at the 22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards in which “Straight Outta Compton” cast members broke it down, the dance craze has hit mainstream.
While he didn’t create the dab, Newton certainly has made it cool for everyone to do with his endzone celebrations. And that’s just Newton having fun. When you think about the car accident Newton had in 2014 in which the truck he was driving was essentially crushed, who can blame him for dancing and having some fun? Life is too short to not enjoy it. So for all the haters that don’t like Newton because of his dancing displays, perhaps they should keep that fact in mind.
Newton very easily could have lost everything that December 2014 day, including his life. Instead, thankfully, America and the rest of the world have the luxury to be treated to Carolina’s “Superman” at Super Bowl 50.
“That (car accident) puts everything into perspective,” Newton said on the first media day leading up to Super Bowl 50. “I was going to bring little Chosen with me, but I didn’t think he could walk down the steps yet. He’s already walking if you ain’t know. He’s a month old. With me going through the car accident, everything is just, I’m just blessed, man. Sometimes you get asked questions and you’re speechless. You’re just here in this moment, because I’m so happy to one, walk away from it, but also see so much blessings be rained upon me.”