*Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said he believes that his race plays a role in the way people perceive him.
Asked during a press conference Wednesday in Charlotte why he thinks people continue to be critical of him despite the MVP-like season he has had.
“I’ve said it since Day 1, I’m an African-American quarterback that might scare some people, because they haven’t seen anything they can compare me to,” Newton said.
“Oftentimes, it’s funny, I get inspired, it makes me go out there and practice even harder because I remember when I was working out for the draft and I would see the Senior Bowl playing, I see these guys out there busting their tails, trying to get drafted, trying to have a job to provide for their family or themselves and it’s like, here I am, I’m doing exactly what I want to do, how I want to do it.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera was also asked to weigh in on why he believes Newton inspires such debate.
“That’s just who he is. He’s a tremendously gifted athlete, a terrific quarterback, a smart football player,” Rivera said. “I don’t think he wants to be known as an African-American quarterback. I think he wants to be known as a quarterback and I think that’s what drives him, to be able to transcend those boundaries, which I think is great.
“People think that you should be stoic when you play this game and I think a lot of people disagree,” Rivera continued. “You should be able to come out and have fun. This is a kid’s game we’re playing. I know there’s a lot of money involved and everything, but at the end of the day, it’s about entertainment and having fun.”