The date is October 1st and the scene is Foxboro. Cam Newton is in the pistol with Christian McCaffrey to his left. He’s spread the Patriots defence out with a four-receiver set.
The Auburn product ran a read-option and ended up getting into the end zone after contact. As he celebrated, he raised his fist into the air. “I did it to raise — to show Black Pride because I am an African American,” he said.
This is not uncommon and given the atmosphere in the NFL, let alone the United States at present, it’s commendable. Newton came off the back of a game where he appeared to reignite an offence that had struggled previously.
The 28-year-old has dabbed his way to mediocrity since his Super Bowl flop but on this occasion, the Panthers put it all together and nobody is doubting he’s an integral part of that.
— NFL (@NFL) October 1, 2017
With the touching gesture afterwards to show solidarity, Newton was once again making the news for all the right reasons. That was, of course, until after his press conference on Wednesday.
Charlotte Observer beat writer Jourdan Rodrigue commented on Devin Funchess’ willingness to embrace physicality in his route-running. It was a fair, widely-held yet less-shared view of the game in question. Rodrigue made a note on a game of football that was accurate and was completely perplexed at Newton’s response.
Out of 32 starting NFL quarterbacks, Cam Newton’s total QBR is 25th. That “female” knows routes better than he does. pic.twitter.com/f6NCEqwl1d
— shauna (@goldengateblond) October 4, 2017
He joked that it was funny to hear a female talk about routes – as if it were some sort of foreign concept to women.
It’s absolutely worth noting that Rodrigue’s place in the public spotlight threw up old tweets with racist tonality.
I don't think it's "funny" to be a female and talk about routes. I think it's my job.
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 4, 2017
That’s completely unacceptable and just because Newton is a global star does not mean he should have to apologise any more than Jourdan should. That’s called equality.
The equality that Newton suggested he believed in when raising his fist into the Massachusetts skyline when putting the Panthers up, 29-16. The equality he believed in, however, appeared to be exclusive. With his words and his demeanour, he unintentionally ranked isms.
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 5, 2017
The level of smugness he portrayed was completely drenched in condescension. Newton believes he’s worked his whole life for the opportunity he’s been afforded. He believes that physical commitment like running read-option and being an able-bodied runner means he deserves the success he has achieved to this date.
Rodrigues herself is in the job – clearly because she understands football to a certain degree.
That’s the prerequisite for her career, and she does it at least as well as Newton does his.
She didn’t smirk and ask him why he’s sacked a lot due to his poor pocket awareness. She didn’t list out his interceptions caused by poor mechanics while laughing at him. She didn’t tell him he doesn’t get enough zip on passes because he relies on his back foot too much, either.
She did her job. His job in that situation is to answer questions. She treated him with the respect he deserved.
— Cameron Newton (@CameronNewton) October 6, 2017
Perhaps before learning another new tacky dance move to trademark, he should understand that injustice is a universal concept.
By acting in the manner he did, Newton undermined those who signal their support for an end to racial discrimination.
It seems the man who wants people to believe he supports a fight for equality is merely trying to be a poster boy with little but paper-thin beliefs and a lack of comprehension to back it up.