Cam Newton is in a tough predicament. As one of the most recent NFL players to address social issues experienced across the United States, he expressed frustration during a press conference over the expectations he faces regarding his public stance on the matter. The public has reportedly been looking askance at Newton due to his changed stance on racial issues being informed by GOP consultant Frank Luntz.
“I know that the place that I stand, sometimes it’s a lose-lose,” Newton said. “You say something in one sense and everybody is saying, ‘You’re a traitor.’ You say something in another sense and, ‘Oh, he’s just too real and you can’t necessarily say that.’ So I’m in a position now where it’s like if I say something it’s going to be critiqued and if I don’t say something, ‘Oh, you’re fake,’ or, ‘You’re a fraud.’ ”
Protesters took to the streets in Charlotte over two nights after Keith L. Scott, 43, was shot and killed by police outside an apartment complex. Kerr Putney, chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, said Scott was brandishing a gun and threatening officers before he was shot. Putney said police were examining video footage of the incident as part of their ongoing investigation. Doubts have emerged as to whether the police department is engaged in a cover-up.
“I’m a firm a believer of justice. I’m a firm believer of doing the right thing,” Newton said. “And I can’t repeat it enough of just holding people accountable … I am not happy with what or how the justice has been kind of dealt with over the years.”
Newton expressed dismay over how police shootings of unarmed Black people have been handled.
“The police brutality is … it’s embarrassing to even talk about,” he said. “When you sit up here and list the names, it’s crazy to even think about how did this even happen and how do police who take a leave absence still get paid.”
Newton said he faces a very difficult dilemma when taking a public stance on social issues. In July, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett criticized Newton for not being “at the forefront of trying to change what’s going on.”
Newton hopes people understand the approach he is taking in trying to spur change.
“I salute Colin Kaepernick for his stand, for what he stands for, but at the end of the day, I also can make a stand in my own right,” Newton said. “That’s why I have a foundation and I’ve been trying to do any and everything to bring the city of Charlotte or wherever I’m around and keep impacting it in a positive way. I’m hoping people see that and do the same thing.”