As Tomlinson noted in this morning’s links, Warren Moon is playing the race card in the Cam Newton debate. And while I’m easily irked by those who shove the race card down our throats, I’ll admit that Moon might have a point here.
I should note that I do not believe there are any current NFL quarterbacks who are widely discriminated against as people or as players based on the colour of their skin. But I do believe that we have a bad habit of automatically attaching very specific adjectives to black prospects.
From CBSSports.com’s Michael Freeman:
Moon was extremely angry over what he perceives as racially biased treatment of Newton by media and fans and was impassioned in his defense of Newton.
“A lot of the criticism he’s receiving is unfortunate and racially based,” Moon said. “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.
“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.”
Now, it’s probably important to note that white quarterback prospect Ryan Mallett has practically been labelled as a drug addict and has — this is fantastic — been referred to as a wannabe Eminem. So it’s not like white prospects escape scrutiny (although it is pretty ridiculous that the critic felt the need to compare the Arkansas signal caller to the world’s most famouse white rapper).
But the most important point Moon makes is that we continue to question Newton’s future because he played in a spread offence at Auburn, all the while ignoring that white Sam Bradford and white Colt McCoy did the same thing. I keep hearing that Blaine Gabbert (white) is more NFL-ready than Newton, but Gabbert, too, played in a non-pro-style offence in college.
It does seem as though Newton’s name is more commonly connected to the spread. And it does seem as though we go in on his personality more than we do with any other quarterback. And yet the devil’s advocate would tell you that no other quarterback has invited such scrutiny by calling himself an entertainer and an icon.