Entertainment & Culture
My Problem With Cam Newton

I woke up this morning, switched on my television set,  a commercial was on, and — and at first I thought someone was playing a joke on me.

I usually fall asleep with the tv timed in to ESPN or MSNBC — which are channels white men tend to watch. I rarely watch BET or Lifetime, so there was no excuse for what was happening. In a panic, I thought maybe I had accidentally rolled on the remote during the night and tuned into Nickelodeon or Fox News. Nope. That wasn’t it. Apparently there was a problem.

Why is Cam Newton not on my TV???

I started to panic. Had ISIS finally come to America to bomb us back to the twelfth century? Maybe the stock market had crashed, the too-big-to-fail behemoth banks had imploded and the capitalist economy had crumbled overnight. Or maybe Jesus had come back. That had to be the answer. I grabbed my gas mask and ran out the front door onto the lawn. My next door neighbor was obsessively blowing the debris off her driveway (as she does every day at dawn), dogs were barking and skinny housewives were out for their morning runs. America was still intact, but my question was still unanswered, so I screamed it to my neighbor:


She just lowered her leafblower and stared at me.

She probably didn’t know that Cam Newton had led Blinn College to a junior college National Championship. Maybe she was unaware that the next year he led Auburn University to an undefeated season and SEC championship in college football’s toughest conference. And won a Heisman Trophy. And a BCS National Championship. I bet she had no idea that he was the overall number one pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Now, after four years in the NFL, he was going to the Super Bowl to face Peyton Manning, who many experts once thought might go down as the greatest quarterback of all time. By the way, Manning made it to the Super Bowl in his seventh season in the NFL, and this is Newton’s fifth.

So shouldn’t Cam Newton be on my TV?!?

But let’s not compare Cam to Peyton. Peyton didn’t win a Heisman or a college championship. Neither did Brady. Hell, Brady was barely drafted, and although he just might be the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, by all accounts he eschews many endorsement deals and only entertains high-end offers. There is a better athlete with whom we should be comparing Cam.

Do you remember when Jordan was the basketball Messiah? He was voted the best player in college basketball after leading his the University of North Carolina to an ACC and national championship in the toughest basketball conference in the country. Does that sound familiar?

Even before he went to an NBA Final (in his sixth season — one more than Cam, by the way) you couldn’t walk by a TV set or a billboard without seeing His Airness. Michael Jordan hocked everything from Gatorade and sneakers to underwear and cars. He was tall, good-looking, well-spoken and the most exciting star in his sport. He was everywhere, which brings me to a question I may have forgotten to ask:


The National Football League’s popularity in America makes the NBA’s look like this picture of Mark Ingram standing next to Derrick Henry. Newton should be building on the model for endorsements that Jordan built. Lebron James is thought to be a wunderkind basketball prodigy but he lacks that je ne sais quois that Cam Newton has. King James is killing it in endorsements, but he has neither the eloquence, looks, history or hairline that Cam possesses. Yet LBJ will probably be making a Space Jam 2 this summer while sipping on his Lebron-flavored Sprite. (I heard it tastes like that Easter Conference Title hot tub champagne and Rogaine). I know that basketball stars are allowed to be more “urban” because, well… shit, I don’t know. I just know they are. But Cam should be making a Coca-Cola commercial. Or Gatorade. Or at least Diet Shasta.

Why is he not on my TV?

I know what you’re thinking: Didn’t he steal a laptop one time when he was a teenager? Doesn’t he make over-entitled white women write open letters when he dances in the end zone or parades around with the visiting teams flags? Didn’t someone call him a thug?

Ask yourself this:  How many current NFL Quarterbacks returned to their alma mater and finished their degrees? How many times has Cam been in on the field scuffles or off-the-field incidents? Here’s a question: Have you ever even seen Cam frown? Remember that one time a referee told him he was “too young to get that call…” Remind me again how Cam thugged out on him.


Objectively speaking, there isn’t a better-looking, more charismatic, more articulate, more dominant player in all of sports. Did I mention good looking? (No homo) Cam Newton is 6’6″, built like a Greek god, with a smile that looks like Jesus was his orthodontist. I don’t want to destroy your dreams, but– given the opportunity — your wife will sleep with Cam Newton. So will mine.  If the Virgin Mary was alone in a room with Cam, she would… never mind. And now he’s a winner. But there seems to be a subconscious, subversive, under-the-breath criticism of Cam Newton that people just can’t seem to elocute. Maybe he’s too brash for some. They mishmash some words about “leadership” or “tradition.” When he’s dancing jubilantly in the end zone, trucking through linebackers or flipping over end zone protectors, you can see his detractors poking out their lips giving him the gas face. You’ve seen it before, but no one seems to be able to say why he engenders so much animosity, but we all know what it is.

Maybe he isn’t on my TV because he’s so good it makes some people uncomfortable, and here we pronounce “some people” like this: “wīt ˈpē-pəl.”

As I am writing this I’m watching Serena destroy Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open. I mean seriously whip her like she stole something (we know it’s not Serena’s booty). It serves as an apt analogy because Sharapova earns many times more than Serena in endorsements, and Cam Newton is the Serena Williams of the NFL. He is taking a thing that traditionally belonged to caucasian athletes and turning it on its head. He makes every other quarterback look inadequate, they don’t know how they’re going to beat him and it’s giving them the heebie-jeebies.

Let’s be real. Y’all know why Cam Newton isn’t on my TV.

Jesus hasn’t come, I didn’t sleep on my remote and it’s not Armageddon.

Cam Newton isn’t on my TV because he’s Black.

About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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