Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was the best player in the NFL this season and will likely win the Most Valuable Player award for his efforts. He plays the game with a genuine joy, consistently has a smile on his face, isn't afraid to dance on the field and is one of the clear-cut leaders of a great team.
Yet he somehow rubbed certain people the wrong way during Carolina's 17-1 campaign. He inspired ridiculous letters to the editor from fans and drew boos at Monday's Super Bowl Opening Night when introduced.
There may be a racial element to how some perceive Newton, but the quarterback seemed tired of talking about that Tuesday, according to David Newton of ESPN.com.
David Newton reported the Auburn product "became visibly bothered Tuesday when he was asked a series of questions about black quarterbacks. 'It's not an issue,' Newton told a reporter when asked about the stereotype of black quarterbacks. 'It's an issue for you.'"
That response reportedly came as an answer to the third consecutive question on the subject.
Cam Newton offered more, per David Newton:
I don't even want to touch on the topic of black quarterback, because I think this game is bigger than black, white or even green.
So I think we limit ourselves when we just label ourselves just black, this, that and the third.
I've said numerous times that I play to have a stage that people will listen to, and I pray to God that I do right by my influence. So when you ask me a question about African-American or being black and mobile, it's bigger than that.
The Panthers quarterback also discussed interactions he has with kids, per David Newton: "Because when I go places and I talk to kids and I talk to parents and I talk to athletes all over, and they look at my story and they see a person, African-American or not, they see something that they can relate to."
While Cam Newton will be only the sixth black quarterback to start in the Super Bowl, Sunday's game will mark the fourth straight time a black signal-caller starts on the NFL's biggest stage. The Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson started the past two, while the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick started Super Bowl XLVII.
When discussing the stereotypes of black quarterbacks, Cam Newton said, "I think we shattered that a long time ago," per David Newton.
If there is something particularly unique about Cam Newton in terms of his on-field accolades, it is his incredible combination of size (6'5" and 245 pounds) and skills.
He has the speed and shiftiness to juke defenders in the open field and the power to run right over them at the goal line. What's more, his arm strength allowed speedsters Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey Brown to develop into dangerous weapons on the outside after former No. 1 option Kelvin Benjamin went down with a torn ACL before the season.
Newton and the Panthers on Sunday will face a formidable Denver Broncos defense that contained Tom Brady in a 20-18 victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Denver stopped Brady largely with pressure, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe noted Brady was hit 20 times, which was the greatest number of hits an NFL quarterback endured in a game during the 2015 campaign.
Brady is an all-time great, but Newton is better equipped to escape pressure and make the Broncos pay by either using his legs to take off running or buying time for his receivers to get open.
If Newton can do that successfully Sunday, he will earn one of the best labels an NFL player can ask for: Super Bowl champion.
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