Updated 2/6/2023 at 5:00 p.m. ET:
Following Cam Newton’s omission from a tweet by the NFL celebrating Black quarterbacks, the NFL Alumni Association’s NYC-Long Island Chapter provided a statement to The Root highlighting the three-time Pro Bowler’s accomplishments. The organization also highlighted the league’s tendency to downplay the abilities of Black quarterbacks.
“The decision by the NFL to exclude Cam Newton in their graphic honoring Black quarterbacks is a glaring oversight. A 10-year Veteran of the league, having won Rookie of the Year, and being the first black quarterback to win NFL MVP, Cam Newton is more than deserving of recognition for being a trailblazer,” the organization said in its statement. “His exclusion speaks to a larger, more pervasive problem in the league of Black quarterbacks not getting their dues; the position of quarterback has historically and predominantly been a position played by white athletes, with only 18 percent of current NFL QB’s being Black. We must raise our standards and ensure that announcers, studio commentators, and the sports media don’t turn a blind eye to the historic contributions of Black athletes both in the NFL and in sports in general.”
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As Black football fans celebrate the success of Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes, the NFL also wanted to salute the Black quarterbacks who have paved the way for the talented players. Unfortunately, they forgot to include 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton and the internet definitely noticed. The tweet features large photos of Hurts and Mahomes, alongside images of Marlin Briscoe, the first Black quarterback in the AFL; Eagles legend Donovan Mcnabb; Atlanta Falcons’ record-breaker Michael Vick; and trailblazers Warren Moon and Doug Williams. The photo also includes a quote from Mahomes, reading, “The guys that came before us set the stage for Jalen and me. I’m just glad that we can set the stage for kids that are coming up now.”
So the NFL was trying to show how much it values the Black history of its league, but once again displayed how out of touch it is by excluding an influential player like Cam Newton. When you look at quarterbacks like Mahomes, Hurts, Kyler Murray, and even Josh Allen, their style of play is directly influenced by Cam. During the 2015 season, Newton led the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 record, making it to Super Bowl 50, where the Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos 24–10. During that record-breaking, dynamic season, he was named the MVP. Do you remember when everyone was running around doing the Dab? Yeah, that was because of Cam. There’s no way the NFL can talk about Black QBs and not include Newton.
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As the league uses Mahomes and Hurts’ success to celebrate Black History Month and highlight how far it’s come, it’s essential that fans don’t let them get away with only showcasing the players and moments they think are acceptable. Frankly, this could have been a case of someone making a mistake. But, going through the entire process of creating a graphic, adding the quote and tweeting it out, without anyone noticing Cam’s absence seems highly suspect on the NFL’s part. Speaking strictly of his exploits on the field, there’s no doubt that Newton should be included among the best Black quarterbacks in NFL history.
One user posted their disdain for the absence, writing, “Cam Newton is an MVP and went 15-1 and y’all left him off. This is pathetic, low and ridiculous.”
Another fan replied by demanding the league show Cam some respect, tweeting, “The best dual threat QB of all time. Set the world on fire and y’all are gonna continue to disrespect and disregard his legacy @NFL? That ain’t right. Acknowledge @CameronNewton!”
Many users noted that Hurts himself has called Cam an inspiration, posting an old tweet of his reading, “[Cam Newton] paved the way for a guy like me. Much love and respect OG.”
This is not the inclusive, understanding vibe the league wanted to put out ahead of the big game. All the NFL had to do was take a moment and do its due diligence before hitting send.
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