Cam Newton downplays comments, turns focus to Super Bowl 50

BY Alex Marvez • February 1, 2016

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Cam Newton is right.

He is just a football player after all.

Newton used that tired cliché to deflect a question about the 2016 presidential election at Super Bowl 50 Opening Night here on Monday. Newton may as well have said the same again when asked to clarify last week's comments about how his success as an African-American quarterback "may scare a lot of people because they haven't seen nothing that they can compare me to."

Anyone hoping Newton would use his Super Bowl platform to expound upon racial relationships and the stereotyping he believes he has received should be sorely disappointed. Not that he is obligated to go there.

Newton, though, is clearly trying to put the genie back in the bottle after his statements created a buzz he didn't anticipate.

The brouhaha stems from a question Newton answered about why he receives an inordinate amount of criticism from fans and some media for a plethora of things not related to football itself. The Carolina Panthers have received stacks of hate mail directed toward Newton and fielded angry phone calls for relatively benign incidents like his celebratory antics and being accidentally caught swearing on a television playoff telecast. Internet posts fueled by anonymous trolls, especially those with a racist bent, bring a whole other level of hate.

"It took on a wave that I kind of expected but didn't want it to reach that magnitude," Newton told ESPN on Sunday about his comments. "It did."

Newton's new explanation a day later about what he was trying to convey is far more inspirational and based upon his own personal experiences and the bumpy road in college he traveled before finding NFL stardom.

"Just trying to give hope for people that may be a step outside the box from being labeled this player, that player," Newton said from a podium engulfed with cameras, microphones and recorders inside the SAP Center. "For me, I've always kind of viewed things differently, played differently, not in the prototypical way.

"So for an athletic quarterback that's coming out, for that person who may have made a mistake in their life, they can look at me and say, 'Well, Cam did it so I can still have hope to do it.' Whether you go to a major Division I school or not, go the junior college route or not, you still have an opportunity to live out your dreams."

Whether he is being truthful or not is something only Newton knows. He's only 26 years old and is just hitting his stride as one of the league's top quarterbacks. Maybe someday Newton will feel comfortable enough to address the issue of race again because his words can make a difference.

It just doesn't look like it will be at Super Bowl 50.

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