Steve Smith Comments on Race's Role in Perception of Cam Newton

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2016

El quarterback de los Panthers de Carolina Cam Newton celebra tras la victoria sobre los Cardinals de Arizona en el partido de campeonato de la Conferencia Nacional de la NFL el domingo, 24 de enero del 2016. (Foto AP/Mike McCarn)
Mike McCarn/Associated Press

The Carolina Panthers are preparing for a Super Bowl clash against the Denver Broncos after an incredible 15-1 regular season, but quarterback Cam Newton has drawn headlines for more than just his impressive play.

Former Panthers wide receiver (and current Baltimore Ravens pass-catcher) Steve Smith Sr. appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Thursday and discussed his former teammate. passed along the interview and set the scene: “Cam Newton is a polarizing player. Perhaps nobody in the NFL has as much fun playing the game as Newton, and he lets absolutely everyone know it. That really irks some people, and Steve Smith says it has something to do with race.”

Here is the entire interview:

The receiver also discussed how many criticized Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman after he showed his emotion following an NFC Championship Game victory over Michael Crabtree and the San Francisco 49ers two years ago. Smith pointed out Sherman’s Stanford pedigree and said he doesn’t think too many “thugs” went to that school.

Smith also clarified the difference between entertaining and taunting, noting the key is not putting someone down personally. He referenced standing over someone and dancing instead of doing it elsewhere as an example of taunting.

Newton has danced his way to the Super Bowl this year, but Smith is familiar with causing a stir with his own celebrations. An video series called him a top-10 celebrator when he was playing for the Panthers.

Newton recently weighed in on the controversy regarding the way fans perceive him, per David Newton of “I've said this since Day 1. 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.”

Carolina head coach Ron Rivera also discussed his quarterback, per David Newton:

People should be scared of a quarterback with his skill set more than anything else. That's who he is. He's a tremendously gifted athlete, a terrific quarterback, a smart football player ... the list goes on and on.

That's what they should be concerned about more than anything else. ... I don't think he wants to be known as an African-American quarterback. I think he wants to be known as a quarterback, and a great one at that. ... How many 6-5 quarterbacks do you see like him, 260 [pounds], running like he does and throwing like he does? He's different. And I think that's the only thing people should say is the skill set is different more so than anything else.

Cam Newton’s skill set is unique, which is one reason the Panthers are 17-1 (including the playoffs) and the favorites to capture the Lombardi Trophy, per Odds Shark. He is likely on his way to receiving the MVP award, finishing the regular season with 3,837 passing yards, 636 rushing yards and 45 total touchdowns.

Cam Newton knew one way he could keep his name in the headlines, per David Newton: "Find any wayany wayto win a football game. Cause when you win [he said, chuckling], that's going to give them something else to talk about."

A Super Bowl title Feb. 7 would have fans talking about the dynamic Panthers signal-caller throughout the entire offseason.