Warren Moon: Does Race Factor in How Cam Newton Is Portrayed in the Media?

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Warren Moon: Does Race Factor in How Cam Newton Is Portrayed in the Media?
Kent Horner/Getty Images

As Cam Newton strives to be the first quarterback taken in the upcoming NFL draft, some suggest he’s been subjected to racist stereotypes.

Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon has been advising Newton.  Moon—who experienced a lot of scrutiny as an African-American quarterback coming out of college—suggests the way Newton is being portrayed in the media is racist.

Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com recently interviewed Moon regarding Newton’s characterization.  Here’s what Moon suggested: “A lot of the criticism he’s receiving is unfortunate and racially based,” Moon told Freeman.  “I thought we were all past this.  I don’t see other quarterbacks in the draft being criticized by the media or fans about their smile or called a phony.  He’s being held to different standards from white quarterbacks.  I thought we were past all this stuff about African-American quarterbacks, but I guess we’re not.”

Moon was a great quarterback who led the Washington Huskies to a Rose Bowl victory in 1978.  Moon ended up at Washington because other schools interested in his services wanted him to switch positions.  He refused.

Frankly speaking, some NFL teams did not want African-American quarterbacks on their roster.  Oddly, Moon was passed over by NFL franchises due to systemic racism within the NFL. 

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Moon took his talents north of the border to Canada where he played six productive years for the Edmonton Eskimos before the Houston Oilers called in 1984.

Moon played 17 productive years in the NFL, retiring in 2000.

Let’s face it; racism still is prevalent in society, so invariably it will be present in American sports.  Despite what some suggest, there is still a stigma regarding the African-American quarterback. 

Moon recently told Freeman, “Of course there is racism in every walk of society.  We’ve made a lot of progress in this country. But racism is still there.  I just thought in the sports arena we were beyond it.  I think the way Cam is being treated shows we’re not. . . .”

Let’s delve deeper—who is writing these negative stories about Newton?

According to The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports, much of the negativity attributes Newton receives stems from a lily-white media that clearly lacks diversity.

Facts from the institute indicate 94, 88, 89 of the sports editors, columnists and reporters are white.

African-Americans account for zero, six, and eight percent of those occupying the same positions: Yet the NFL has a player representation of 68 percent. 

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Facts indicate much of the information disseminated about professional athletes clearly come from a white male vantage point.

Doesn't it make sense to have more diversity in the media for balanced coverage?

Newton has been characterized as a great “athlete” who is “lacking the intangibles” to run a pro-style offense.  His leadership skills have been scrutinized as well by the so-called experts like ESPN’s Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr. and general managers around the league.

Why is Newton being scrutinized?

Didn’t he lead Auburn to a National Championship while going undefeated?

Yeah, Newton ran the spread offense.

Big deal.

Didn’t Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford run the same offense in college?

Were they scrutinized like Newton for running the spread offense?

Moon offered the following to Freeman, “The thing that makes me laugh is the question of can [Newton] come out of the spread offense?  Can he run a pro offense?  Colt McCoy came out of the spread offense and very few people raised that issue about him.  So did Sam Bradford. Same thing.  Very few questions asking if Bradford could run a pro offense.  Some of these questions about Cam are more about his intellect.  It’s blatant racism, some of it.”

Charlie Ward led the Florida Seminoles to the National Championship in 1993.  Ward also won the Heisman Trophy.

Ward was a gifted collegiate athlete who played point guard in basketball and was a great pitcher in baseball. 

When the 1994 NFL draft came and went, Ward’s name was not called.  Ward stated he “deserved to be selected in the first round.”  He suggested if he wasn’t selected in the first round then he’d opt for basketball.

Ward was projected by experts as a third to fifth-round pick at best.

How can a quarterback who passed for 3032 yards, 27 touchdowns against four interceptions not at least get a legit look?

I believe race factored in to why Ward was snubbed, and it factors in to why Newton is being victimized by racist stereotypes. 

I am quite sure some will suggest I am playing the race card.

Not so.

All those who think I’m playing the race card, I ask you to simply open your collective minds.  Allow a level of objectivity to infiltrate your ignorance so you simply ask yourself one question: 

Does what he (Dexter) suggest have a semblance of credence?

Is that too much to ask?

For some, it’s much easier to continually clutch ones ignorance rather than attempt to constructively attack it. 

I guess that’s to be expected, considering much of what we digest comes from a lily-white media.

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