If you’re a professional football player being interviewed this week, you can bank on being asked about Colin Kaepernick – specifically, the 49ers quarterback’s decision not to stand during the National Anthem. That’s what happened to Cam Newton in an interview with ESPN.
Admirably, Newton didn’t avoid the question; he shared his honest perspective on Kaepernick and, on a larger scale, racial relations in America in 2016. As usual, Newton had an interesting perspective that some will disagree with.
“Who am I to say that it’s wrong?” Newton asked. “Who am I to say that it’s right? Either or, it’s still personal.”
Newton expressed disbelief that skin color has become such a dividing factor.
“What I can’t fathom is, how does one-eighth of an inch—something so small—become the difference and such a big commodity of our whole lifetime. And that’s the thickness of our skin, one-eighth of an inch,” Newton said. “Under that, we’re all the same color, and that’s the big picture.
“A lot of scrutiny happens when an athlete starts talking about race, but the truth of the matter is we’ve just got to do right by each other, no matter what color you are. Certain things that have happened in our lifetime, it is kind of embarrassing to be affiliated with, but it still happens. Who am I to say, ‘Colin, you’re wrong’? And who am I to say, ‘Bro, you’re right’? Because we all have the right to think what we want to think, and I respect that about everybody.”
Newton has made waves with his perspective on race before. In January, shortly before the Super Bowl, he said: “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."
Asked about that quote, he later told GQ: "I don’t want this to be about race, because it’s not. It’s not. Like, we’re beyond that. As a nation.”
Which led many people to reply: we’re beyond that?
The Panthers quarterback is coming off the best season of his career. Newton won MVP after throwing for 3,837 yards and 35 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Perhaps most impressively, he led the Panthers to a 15-1 regular season and a trip to the Super Bowl, where they fell to the Broncos.
The Panthers kick off their season on September 8 in Denver with a rematch of that game.
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