Let’s start this by validating Cam Newton’s feelings. A lot of people have, and rightfully so, bucked back at the quarterback’s assertion that the length of his hair is the reason why he’s still not on an NFL roster. Newton is a large, outspoken, Black man prone to fancy outfits, who grew up in the South. I’m sure he’s been told that he scares people before, which is what he’s saying people are telling him regarding the length of his hair, and that has to be frustrating.
Here’s what the former Auburn Tiger said when the topic of his hair came up during an appearance on Josina Anderson’s Undefined podcast.
“It’s been hinted, and I’m not changing. People have hinted to where they say like, ‘Cam, we want you to go back to the 2015 clean-cut Cam.’ But, that was a different me. The thing that is always mentioned is, ‘Cam, you’re scaring people with how you look.’”
Everyone has touchy subjects
The comment section in the era of social media has 36 flavors of triggers, and regardless of how many media members and front offices say Cam’s on-field performance and inability to accept a backup role are the reasons for his dilemma, that’s not what he’s focused on. Think about the episode of Seinfeld with the boyfriend who is a bad breaker upper that tells Elaine she has a big head.
People say extremely fucked up and unfair things, often attacking shit we can’t control, or our attempts to express ourselves, and it can eat away at you to the point that you want to lodge a fork in their forehead. I agree with the assessment that Newton is no longer worthy of starting; his accuracy can best be described as Jackson Pollock-ian.
However, there is truth to what he’s saying. Newton has an outsized personality, and a lot of it seeps out in the way he dresses and wears his hair. It takes a lot of perfect pelts in Red Dead Redemption 2 to unlock the hats he wears, but there’s no shortage of bench/role guys who also love to accessorize.
So what if he’s overconfident? Why would you want a backup who thinks he can’t contribute? And Newton isn’t going to overthrow a locker room, or win a starting job, coming to work looking like Elfrid Payton if Elfrid Payton dressed as Lloyd Christmas for Halloween, so I don’t see the big deal.
A little push and pull goes a long way
Newton is only 33; it’s not like he’s past his usefulness. The Philadelphia Eagles could sign him to get shoved across the line to gain on fourth and shorts to preserve Jalen Hurts. Is Newton a solid option if your starter goes down for a few weeks? He could be. It depends on the coach, the talent around him, and what he’s asked to do, but there are worse backups. (He’s in no position to dictate who he backs up though, which are his terms for accepting such a role.)
I would caution Newton against making the debate about anything race related. Not because he’s wrong, but rather because calling owners racist is the quickest way to get shadow banned from the NFL.
The league is under constant scrutiny for how it treats non-white males, and it feels like ownership groups would rather not be being on their shit than make any kind of actual change, so it’s unsurprising they view Newton as more risk than reward.
It could be as easy as not commenting on his hair, or avoiding calling him scary, because those are clearly sensitive subjects. I find that listening is preferable to waiting for a chance to scream “You’re wrong,” and while I don’t agree with Newton’s entire logic, he’s not entirely wrong.