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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Cam Newton – Breaking Stereotypes

Cam+Newton%2C+quarterback+for+the+Carolina+Panthers%2C+has+pushed+back+against+the+media+for+labeling+him+a+black+quarterback%2C+as+opposed+to+just+a+quarterback.+This+photo+was+taken+on%26%23160%3BOctober+19%2C+2014%2C+when+the+Carolina+Panthers+played+the+Green+Bay+Packers.

Cam Newton, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, has pushed back against the media for labeling him a “black quarterback,” as opposed to just a “quarterback.” This photo was taken on October 19, 2014, when the Carolina Panthers played the Green Bay Packers.

Throughout the entire season Cam Newton has been bashed for his on field antics. The dancing, the dabs, the in-your-face charisma paired with a wide eyed smile that verges between cocky and confident, and a swagger that just rubs some folks the wrong way.
Historically, the media has considered the quarterback position to be predominantly occupied by white players. Journalists label many black quarterbacks as mobile or athletic, rather than as pocket passers. Newton, too, has experienced this systemic flaw within the NFL, constantly hearing questions about being a “black quarterback.”
On January 27, at a press conference, Newton stated, “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing they can compare me to.” After the comment, sports broadcasters and reporters went wild online and on television, totally blowing his remarks out of proportion.
A week later Newton was interrogated by journalists about race during player availability. “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,” the fifth-year Panther said. “I think we limit ourselves when we just label ourselves just black, this, that, and the third.”
News reporters inappropriately responded by berating him with questions, as if his responses were directed as personal insults. One reporter was excessively confrontational following Newton’s comment, stating, “Why don’t you want to elaborate on it? Don’t you believe … the stereotype that a mobile black quarterback cannot throw in the pocket? You don’t think that exists?”
“I think we shattered that a long time ago,” Newton calmly replied. Following Newton’s response, the reporter made his last smug remark, “You really believe that?”
***
Now that Newton is headed to the Super Bowl, ESPN and other broadcasting network reporters are taking the liberty of comparing him to other Super Bowl quarterbacks such as Doug Williams, Steve McNair, Donovan McNabb, and even Russel Wilson. Realistically though, all of these quarterbacks are very different molds. The fact that these quarterbacks are blacks doesn’t mean there is an intrinsic blueprint to their skillsets. In fact, most of these quarterbacks are mainly pocket passers, which is a trait that these journalists have dismissed in their comments.
Even the Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers challenged the idea of Cam wanting to be the best “black quarterback.” Ron Riviera stated, “I don’t think he wants to be known as an African American quarterback. I think he wants to be known as a quarterback, and a great one at that.”
It’s dumbfounding to see such open displays of systemic racism within the sport. The idea that reporters want to measure Newton with different parameters for success just because of his skin color is astounding. Reporters continue to call Newton the “best black quarterback” in the league this season, rather than labeling him as potentially the best quarterback in the league period. In fact, the 26-year-old posted the seventh most touchdowns ever in a single season, only behind Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Dan Marino, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees — not bad company to be among. Newton, otherwise known as “Superman,” was able to lead the Panthers to a 15-1 record in the regular season, throwing 35 and rushing 10 touchdowns. All of this while amounting to 76.2 percent of his team’s total yards and only 14 turnovers on the year.
Ultimately though, Cam is being critiqued for being black and talented. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and many others are also known for celebrating. J.J. Watt even dances just like Newton, but these athletes aren’t constantly under the microscope of public scrutiny. Newton should just continue to be himself and have fun because at the end of the day, he is a top five quarterback in the NFL, and beyond that, he’s a good dude and a great role model for kids.
“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. “So when you ask me a question about [being] African American or being a black and mobile [quarterback], 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.”