A Requiem For Cam Newton

Cam Newton was a polarizing figure even before the Super Bowl. Some people see him as simply a great quarterback, one fired with enthusiasm and one that is succeeding where other mobile quarterbacks have failed.

Then there are those who see Cam Newton as a showboating, uppity hot dog, and will never root for him. You know, racists (many of them anyway). They may not believe themselves to be racists, or have overt racist thoughts, but they permit a very wide array of white personalities to express themselves, but the only blacks who will win their respect are those who are humble and quiet.

This phenomenon was, once again, very well-documented before the Super Bowl. The Carolina Panthers were the quietest 15-1 team in history. Perhaps the loudest 15-1 team were the '85 Bears. Perhaps you remember their quarterback was pretty colorful, very white, and not hated by half the population.

This was the backdrop on my mind when Newton didn't dive on that fumble. My freakin' heart cringed. I knew that this would give the subconscious racists all the ammo they would need for a lifetime.

As a fan of the guy and as a Buccaneer fan rooting for the Panthers, I just want to yell out: why, Cam? Seriously, what the hell? I can't recall an on-field decision by an athlete as baffling as this one, in any sport. I briefly considered Lonnie Smith in the 1991 World Series, but he was pretty clearly confused and didn't know where the ball was, while things were unfolding directly in front of Newton.

Earlier today, he said essentially that he planted his leg in such a way that he knew he was likely to hurt himself if he dove for the ball. But he didn't simply not dive for it, he backed away from it like it was a hot potato. It's pretty well-established that Newton is not afraid to take hits, so while casual watchers and casual racists might assume this is a case of Newton being a real life Roger Dorn, that explanation does not hold up to the barest scrutiny.

So I still don't know what happened on that play, but I do know that Newton is held to a different standard than, for example, Peyton Manning, who did not shake hands with the Saints after they beat his Colts in Super Bowl (my favorite quote from that piece: "At the time, the media landscape was slightly different, and there weren't 10,000 blogs to write about it, so it didn't become a huge part of the post-Super Bowl conversation." Yeah, you know, back in those early-Internet days of 2010. That's the difference!)

You probably didn't even know Peyton Manning sat on a female trainer's face with his bare ass, testicles and all, in college, something he dismissed as merely crude and an unfortunate inevitability of letting women in football locker rooms in his autobiography.

I rate Manning's no-handshaking as slightly worse than Newton's sullen responses and abrupt departure in the Super Bowl presser, and of course the trainer incident is of course miles worse than anything Newton has ever reported to have done. But you don't need me to tell you that Manning is in, the last I checked, every single commercial filmed since 2004 and Newton is being called "boy" by Bill Romanowski. Bill Romanowski! Spitting-in-opponents-faces Bill Romanowski! Ending teammate's careers with a punch Bill Romanowski!

That tweet, of course, is only the beginning, and that piece doesn't even scrape the bottom of the N-word barrel. It is a sickening, depressing time to be a football fan. Nearly 70 years after Jackie Robinson made his debut, and the double standards between white and black are still mind-boggling.

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