Saturday Night Live’s Scathing Send-Up Of Racist NFL Media Coverage
Over the last two seasons, this current one in particular, Saturday Night Live has returned to form in its ability to provide hilarious and often biting commentary on the state of politics and pop culture in America. Something they have only recently really begun to nail though is their lampooning of American sports culture.
This was on full display Saturday night when they re-wrote the lyrics of "Ebony and Ivory" to provide searing commentary on the harsh reality of the racism that has surrounded media coverage of the NFL all season and has been particularly egregious in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50.
The brilliant sketch features Keenan Thompson as Cam Newton and Taran Killam as Peyton Manning, musically pontificating on the vastly different manners in which they are viewed and treated by NFL media and even fans.
Whether you do or do not believe Peyton receives undo reverence from colleagues and journalists, it's obvious that the respect he has been treated with across the course of his career is a nearly universal respect that Cam Newton does not benefit from.
And that's not because Cam Newton is violent. It's not because he's a criminal. It's not because he refrains from helping those in his community, or parties the night before games or throws his teammates under the bus in press conferences. No, Newton has been described with words like "disrespectful." "thug," "immature," "childish" and far worse because he showboats. Newton celebrates his achievements with swagger and confidence and is wholly unashamed by his unabashed joy at being the best player in the NFL right now.
His behavior is considered by many to be unbecoming of a leader, despite the fact that his teammates adore him, as does his coach. Here is an actual exchange he had with a reporter during openning night of Super Bowl media week after he was asked about his legacy as a black quarterback:
Newton: "I don’t want to even touch on the topic of black quarterback because I think this game is bigger than black, white, or even green … I don’t think I should be labeled as just a black quarterback because there are bigger things in this sport that need to be accomplished."
Reporter: "Why don’t you want to elaborate on it? It’s a big issue.
Newton: "No it’s not."
Reporter: "The stereotype that a mobile black quarterback cannot throw in the pocket effectively … you don’t think …"
Newton: "I think we shattered that a long time ago."
Reporter: "You really believe that? Why don’t you back it up and say something?"
Newton: "Why should I back it up?"
Reporter: "Because you brought up the topic and it’s still an issue."
Newton: "It’s not an issue. It’s an issue for you."
As uncomfortable as that is to read, it's ten-times more uncomfortable to hear. Over and over and over again. At the end of the day, Newton is not obligated to discuss his race or the role of his race in the NFL. He is preparing just as Peyton Manning is. There should be no difference in the kind of questions they have to answer.
And oh by the way, the media was far less aggressive when it came to pressing Manning about HGH having been shipped to his wife at the same exact time that he was undergoing the reconstruction of his entire neck.
There is no question that Newton's personality is not for everybody. Neither is Manning's. Or Aaron Rodgers. Or Tom Brady's. Or Russell Wilson's. Or Johnny Manziel's. Sometimes people are just unlikeable to you because their temperament doesn't fit with your own.
The point is, you don't have to Cam Newton's antics - or the way he playes football for that matter - if you don't want to; but you don't definitely don't get to make that about his race.
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