Disrespectful NFL Erasure Of Cam Newton Creeps Into Black History Month

The NFL attempted to honor the legacy of Black quarterbacks ahead of Super Bowl LVII, but many believed they missed the mark by excluding Cam Newton. In a graphic posted to the NFL’s social media channels, a collage of images featuring past Black quarterbacks behind Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts was meant to conjure a historical juxtaposition.

The five legacy quarterbacks include Warren Moon, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, and Doug Williams, the first Black quarterback to start in the Super Bowl and win, among the examples.

Although it might be difficult to place every notable Black quarterback from the game on the graphic, some fans seemed extremely dissatisfied with Cam Newton’s exclusion. It opened a view into the widely held belief that the NFL picks and chooses its heroes and that the qualifications for ones of color are contingent on the perceptions of their humility.

Carolina Superman

Cam Newton is one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history. He never won a Super Bowl, but in 2015, he appeared in Super Bowl L. During that same year, he became one of four African-American quarterbacks to be nominated for MVP and is the first to win the distinction.

During his college career, he bounced from the University of Florida to a junior college, Blinn College, to Auburn, where he won the 2011 BCS national championship game as a junior and a Heisman trophy in the same year before being selected first overall by the Carolina Panthers. Newton is undoubtedly a legend in Carolina. He made Superman’s chest rip, iconic in Carolina blue, and raised the team’s stature.

Newton received many awards during his time on the Panthers, including NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2011, and was on the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team. He also has has series of firsts from his start in the league as the first rookie quarterback in the NFL to throw for 4,000 yards in a season and the first to throw for 400 yards in his NFL debut. On top of that, Newton set the season record for quarterback rushing touchdowns.

He was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and NFL Offensive Player of the Year, both in 2015. He also was First-team All-Pro in 2015 and is a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback (2011, 2013, 2015).


Black Humility

Newton is anything but humble in the way that the NFL likes to market its stars. His style is in stark difference to those of Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts. His unapologetic Blackness is an extension of his father and the city of Atlanta that raised him as he evolved in the public eye. The early low haircut sprouted into high-rising loc’d hair and a penchant for an off-the-field flamboyance that the NFL wants to reserve for the second coming, style-wise, of Joe Namath only, currently reserved for Bengals QB Joe Burrow.

His podcast and various interviews over the past few years have given an authentic look into the polarizing of Cam Newton, and the reception was mixed. Newton doesn’t fit into a neat package, and since his departure from the game, albeit one he didn’t ask for, it is clear that the league seems finished with him.

After almost ten years with the Panthers, Newton spent a year with the New England Patriots in the post-Tom Brady era. It ended badly with Mac Jones taking the starting spot, and the team eventually waived Newton. His last NFL appearance was a full circle moment as Newton returned to the Panthers, not with the standout performances that made him Carolina royalty. Instead, his return ignited the fans’ nostalgia for his early tenure.

Newton did enough to be considered one of the best Black quarterbacks ever and one of the league’s greatest ever. The Black History Month snub is the latest way the league picks and chooses how the narrative of its athletes forms.

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