We live in a 2012 America, but race is still unfortunately a hot button issue. We have a black man in the White House, literally leading out country and people are still living in a 1960′s Mississippi mindset, albeit in a closeted way.
Warren Moon, the Hall of Fame quarterback who led many great seasons for the Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings and numerous others, believes that race has again reared it’s violently ugly head when it comes to the criticism of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
“I think a lot of this is because so many people want to say ‘I told you so’ about him but couldn’t because he was so good last year,” Moon said. “I think people are overreacting. How can he be a bust? He just had one of the great years a rookie has ever had, and now he can’t play? Come on.”
This isn’t a new topic of debate. Ever since Newton was hitting it big at Auburn and talks of him becoming the next No. 1 pick, race has been tethered to the criticism of his game. ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith is echoing Moon’s sentiment that white people might have a problem with Newton’s success and are relsihing in his obvious gorwing pains.
“It reeks of something a little bit extra than football,” Smith said of a cartoon that ran in a September edition of the Charollote Observer that depicted Newton revealing a Hello Kitty cat rather than a Superman S on his chest. “I’m not saying racism. It makes me uncomfortable.”
Not everyone believes Newton’s criticism is drenched with racial undertones. Former ESPN writer and current FOX Sports columnist Jason Whitlock wrote last month that we should be cautious to not confuse criticism with racism.
“The Charlotte Observer cartoon basically told Newton to scrap the Superman routine if he’s going to drape a towel over his head and sulk when things go poorly. Superman checks into a phone booth, puts on a cape and saves the world when things go poorly.”
This is a touchy issue, as people are clearly landing on both sides of the isle on this one, even if their colleagues and friends like Whitlock and Smith are. The troubling thing is, Stephen A. Smith is right, this transcends football. Not because a bunch of satirical cartoonists put Cam in check, or a white scout filed out a report saying Newton didn’t possess skills to be a real NFL quarterback and then listed a laundry list of things wrong with his game.
It’s the fact that we are being told the colors. Cam Newton, the BLACK quarterback. The WHITE scout, the WHITE cartoonists, the BLACK analysts.
We live in 2012 people, we have the ability to read newspapers on eight million different portable devices — we can even have them read to us. Why are we still using race as a crutch, are we all that lazy? I’m white, I’m critical of Cam Newton but it’s in no way coming from a subconscious racial place, it’s coming from game tape, from what I see in his game. It’s coming from a place of wanting to have a young quarterback, regardless of what skin color he has, to grow into a giant star who can carry the next generation of football.
The fact that Cam Newton is black has nothing to do with the fact he has had an awful sophomore campaign. This, is coming from a white man — let’s put it on the books folks. Newton’s failures are coming from within the Panthers, it’s stemming from the fact they didn’t want to believe defense’s would figure him out and because of that, they failed to place the proper tools around him to utilize.
Josh Freeman had a horrible season last year, why wasn’t Warren Moon calling this critics racist? Freeman has been called out numerous times by fans this year and he’s actually improved himself, where’s Stephen A. Smith saying Bucs fans are card carrying members of a White Nationalist society?
JaMarcus Russell literally abided by every racist stereotype that white rednecks married to their cousins who live in the deep south think of black people, so where was his defense? Where was the attempt to rescue a man who clearly needed help?
Jay Cutler is the whiniest douchebag in recent memory to take snaps for a living. No one was saying black people are being unfair to Cutler when people criticized him for pushing an offensive lineman, or walking away from his coach. It was what it was, a grown man acting like a child and we called him out on it.
Where are the cries from the Latino community over the heat seeking hate missiles that have been directed at A-Rod for his atrocious stay in New York? A-Rod makes more money than Cutler and Newton combined.
Why is there a double standard? If the criticism of Newton was unwarranted, then I would take issue with it and it would be a problem. But he’s underperforming given the kind of talent he has. We wouldn’t be doing out jobs if we gave him a pass for playing like someone he’s not or what he is. And what he is, is a young talent quarterback with potential superstar status.
This isn’t about race, and if it was we need consistency in who we call racists. I’ll likely be called a closest racist for speaking my mind about this, but that will be by people who have knee-jerk reactions to this issue.
I’m a liberal, I volunteered on Obama’s campaigns in 2008 and 2012, I’ve been in locker rooms with 7 foot tall black men. If I was a racist, I likely would have been found out and taken care of by now. Here’s what I do: I write about sports. I wanted to write about politics, but I didn’t want to hate my job or have it corrode my humanity. So, when politics invade something I love so much I take issue with it.
Cam Newton is a black man, who cares? I don’t. To me Cam Newton is an NFL quarterback and he’ll be judged as such regardless of whether he’s black, white, oriental, latino, a man, a woman, fat, skinny, short, tall, or a member of my very own family.
He is my family, because football is my family, regardless of what you look like. Can’t we just watch the game and let idiots be idiots?