3. He is ‘different’
Cam is 6’4” 245 lbs. That is not so different. Other quarterbacks are big, like Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers. So size is not Newton’s specialty. The difference is his approach to the game. This seems to be a racial and generational thing that feeds into that ‘diva’ thing at number two.
The biggest block of people watching football are baby boomers or the generation just after. This is the generation that Herm Edwards falls into. Edwards notably ripped current players who carried grudges against Chip Kelly and suggested they just do their job. People like Edwards remember that Barry Sanders handed the ball to the refs every time after scoring. They want football players to do their jobs and make their millions and be happy about it.
The divide between the old-school player and the newer guys like Newton may not be in the far distant past either. Brandon Marshall of the Jets said on the Larry Wilmore Show that he did not want his quarterback dancing but he did have good feelings for the guys that did it. Marshall is a current player, not an old veteran claiming that it was better in the old days. Yet Marshall likes Cam, primarily because Cam is a winner. If he talks the talk, he at least walks the walk.
Marshall liked Newton because he thought the league was too corporate. Cam had a bunch of endorsements now, but he hasn’t changed his way of doing things. This is a change from the squeaky business profiles of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Drew Brees.
Newton himself believes there is a racial component to his critics. He said that there has never been a quarterback quite like him before in that way. A black quarterback who was willing to be himself on the field in the way that Cam is.
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My memory of black quarterbacks and their behaviors is hazy at best. I don’t remember anything unique about how Warren Moon or Randall Cunningham behaved on the field. The same is true of Steve McNair or Donovan McNabb. The only guy that I remember having some impact on the teams that he played was Michael Vick, but that was an element of his ridiculousness rather than some expression of joy. So I think Cam is right. We have not seen a black quarterback perhaps in the way we have seen quarterbacks who are black.
If that sounded outlandish then maybe you would expect Doug Williams to bring the smackdown to young Cam. Williams, the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl, was asked how he felt about Cam’s comments. Williams said he agreed there was probably a racial component to the criticism and that it looked to him like Newton was having a lot of fun.
Next: Real Cam