Why It’s Not Race: Three Minority QBs Have Higher Jersey Sales Than Cam Newton
Isn't it possible, Cam Newton, that the reason you're a lightning rod for criticism isn't because you're a black quarterback? It may be because of your personality. Maybe.
Super Bowl Media Days aren't even here, and already the Carolina Panthers' quarterback is serving the media a full-course media meal. After beating the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday to reach Super Bowl 50, Newton has done nothing but defend his on-field antics -- all the while claiming that he doesn't care what people think of him.
It's like Stephen A. Smith claiming that he hates talking about race in the middle of a rant about race.
Newton, on Wednesday, to the Charlotte Observer:
“I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to,” Newton said.
That's in response to criticism of Newton stealing a fan's banner, and dancing in the end zone, and taking pictures on the sideline during games, and dabbing, and whatever other self-aggrandizing acts he can think of. Brian Urlacher, in fact, said that he doesn't like Newton's showboating, and that he should celebrate more like Peyton Manning.
Here's why his critics are wrong:
The NFL is a business -- one of the largest corporations in the U.S. -- and players like Newton are its lifeblood. His actions are innocent fun compared to some of the trouble that NFL players get into, and he hasn't broken any rules. Fans can complain, and Newton can ignore them. It's all part of the show -- controversy feeds the beast. Newton is good for the league. That's entertainment.
Except that Newton isn't ignoring his detractors. He's playing the race card, and that's wrong too. Do people outside of New England target Tom Brady because he's white? He's the most criticized quarterback probably ever, and he just kind of rolls with it.
And Newton has to ask himself this question: if being a successful minority quarterback is so off-putting to fans, then why do three of them have better jersey sales than you? In the latest NFLPA ranking, the top-selling QB jerseys are:
1. Russell Wilson.
2. Colin Kaepernick.
3. Marcus Mariota.
4. Cam Newton.
5. Teddy Bridgewater.
Newton is No. 22 overall.
The numbers were tabulated through Nov. 30, and a lot of Kaepernick sales were due to his jersey being on clearance, no doubt (although sales shot up when Chip Kelly was hired as head coach of the 49ers). But the numbers show that the top three here never seemed to have experienced this "fear of a black quarterback" syndrome that Newton has outlined.
Kaepernick, in fact, exhibited a lot of showboating when the 49ers were winning in 2012, and '13, and no one seemed to mind. Fans only turned on him when he lost his supporting cast and started playing badly.
And no one seems to be frightened of the tone of Wilson's skin. He's not only first on the jersey list among QBs, he's first overall. (Brady is second, Aaron Rodgers third, Dez Bryant fourth).
It'll be interesting to hear what Newton has to say when the media descends on Santa Clara next week. Will he be bringing his pack of race cards and make it a Magical Misery Tour? Or will he embrace the moment and not let the criticism become a distraction?
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