As one of the greatest sporting spectacles is approaching, Super Bowl 50, it seems that the popular headlines are surrounding the image of superstar quarterback Cam Newton. Usually, in anticipation for this event media and fans are dissecting matchups between the two teams, predicting the final score, and reminiscing on the storied history of each franchise. The hot topic discussion for this Super Bowl has been different. The debate has surrounded Cam Newton and how he has drawn criticism around the league for apparently ruining the sportsmanship and decorum of the NFL. But let’s face it; Cam Newton has been bombarded with unwarranted criticism because of his exceptional performance while simultaneously being unapologetically Black.
This past season, Cam Newton has shocked the league on and off the field. The Atlanta native has had a historical season for the record books. Newton, who is the NFL MVP favorite, is the first player with at least 30 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season. Aside from his uncanny skills, Cam plays the game of football with a hip flare derived from his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.
The star quarterback is commonly seen hitting the “dab” after a spectacular play, a first down, or a touchdown. The famous Atlanta rap group, Migos, patented the dab dance move. Although there are many connotations to the meaning of dab, the consensus is that it means to impose a high level of swagger or confidence in a situation or upon a particular person.
Cam is a one of a kind competitor. He runs the ball with veracity and throws it with eloquence. He does all of this while “dabbing on them folks” with a glowing smile on his face. Any fan can immediately realize the fun and enjoyment that Cam displays while he’s playing a game. Cam is a young, black, wealthy, and successful quarterback who exhibits cultural self-expression. Because white players have dominated the quarterback position for the past 25 years, Cam’s presence has made fans and fellow players uncomfortable. Many people have mistaken Cam’s confidence and enjoyment for the game for cockiness and egotism. A disturbed Panther’s fan wrote in an open letter to Cam expressing her disapproval of Cam’s behavior. “Mr. Newton, but I think I’m safe in saying thousands of kids watch you every week. You have amazing talent and an incredible platform to be a role model for them. Unfortunately, what you modeled for them today was egotism, arrogance and poor sportsmanship.” The upset fan retracted her letter after Cam responded; explaining that he jus tries to entertain fans and wouldn’t change who is he.
Yes, Cam is not your stereotypical NFL quarterback. But just because Cam grew up in Atlanta and expresses that culture, does not mean he can’t be a role model for our youth. In fact, Cam demonstrates the ability to transcend boundaries without hesitation.
“I’m an African-American quarterback that scares people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.”