ESPN Panelist: Cam Newton Saying Critics Are Not Racist Is ‘Damaging’

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton landed the cover of the most recent issue of GQ, and what he says in the article has put him in the crosshairs of the leftist sports media. Speaking on the subject of race, Newton rejected the notion that criticism of him is fueled by the racism of fans. Saying, “it’s not about race,” and that “we’re beyond that as a nation.”

ESPN did not take this well.

On Monday’s edition of the talk show Around the Horn, panelists Kevin Blackistone, J.A. Adande, Pablo Torre, and Israel Gutierrez unleashed the Kraken of Crazy on Newton:

Tony Reali, ESPN host: Let's talk Cam Newton in GQ magazine. This is on the criticism he has received. "It's not racism. Everybody's entitled to their own opinion. I don't want this to be about race because it's not like we're beyond that as a nation." On national issues like the election, North Carolina's H.B. 2 law, I love people too much to care about those type of things. Some people have certain beliefs, I have my own belief. We can agree to disagree on certain things. Israel Guiterrez, how do you consider Cam's comments?

Israel: I mean, they seem like he is essentially dodging the questions. This is his sort of version of Republicans wear sneakers, too. I'm not going to get into this discussion regardless of what it is, if it's divisive, if it's polarizing, he is not going to talk about it. I would say it's disappointing, but there are stages to this thing. You don't want to have to force an athlete to say things he doesn't want to say or is not ready to say. It feels like Cam is still in that I'm becoming a superstar mode and once he is ready to be able to take on these topics, maybe he will. Then again, it's also not for everybody. We all want everybody to be all of these activists and say this. Maybe some people don't feel comfortable saying that. I would be ok with Cam not really saying much.

Tony: Kevin Blackistone.

Kevin: I'm kind of confused. He seems to be all over the map over the last year. He is the one that brought up the African-American quarterback that he is being someone who can scare everyone and then force all of us to react to that and now he's saying that race has nothing to do with anything that he is familiar with and makes me wonder if maybe Michael Bennett wants to rescind his apology from the other week when he called out Cam Newton for not saying something. On the other hand, he has things to say about the confederate flag coming down. He visited a victim of the Charleston massacre. So I think he sounds like a young man who is still trying to find himself in this new media world that we have where everyone is asking an athlete to say something that sounds important about something that is important.

Tony: Pablo Torre.

Pablo: We tend to treat athletes horribly when they go out on any sort of limb and comments get distorted. The author said it was 25 minutes into an interview when he was asked about the Carolina bathroom law. He says I have nothing to gain by answering that. It tells me that Cam Newton wasn't absolutely being fully transparent. However, it is very damaging to say something along the lines of we are post-racial in this country, we have gotten past that. That is not only something that is a broad sweeping statement which is the only statement which if true would make his statement about his criticism being true, right, like you only believe that Cam Newton is facing no racism and racism does not exist in this country. The fact is I can vouch for that. All of us can vouch for that, the fact that it's not actually the case. It's stigmatizing to give admonition to people in denial.

J.A.: That's the one issue that stood out for me, the denial or the refusal to recognize that racism still can be an issue. While we can see that it has not been an impediment to his career. Race didn't stop him from winning the Heisman Trophy, the NFL and winning the M.V.P. Award. He is aware that there are reactions to him and that race is an issue for other people. He just wanted to sidestep it, didn't feel comfortable addressing it in this environment which is interesting because no one is more unafraid of being himself on the NFL field than Cam Newton. You take him out of that setting in a situation in which he does not feel in control and he all of a sudden became very withdrawn.

So, here’s the Sharknado of insanity in which we currently live: a black athlete born, raised, and currently plying his trade in the South, announces that he is not the victim of racial discrimination. And, instead of celebrating this fact, he’s branded as “withdrawn,” “in denial,” and “damaging?”

Why, it’s almost as if the left doesn’t want racism to go away…

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