Cam Newton Criticized for Telling GQ That America Is "Beyond" Race

Rich Polk/Getty Images for The Players' Tribune

"Everybody's entitled to their own opinion," the NFL star says.

NFL star Cam Newton gave a lengthy interview to GQ, which was posted online Monday morning, and there was immediate backlash to some of his comments on race in America. 

The Carolina Panthers' quarterback was voted Most Valued Player last year for his tremendous play during the NFL regular season, but he also regularly was ridiculed for his demeanor and antics on the field, which came to a head after the Denver Broncos beat the Panthers in Super Bowl 50.

The 27-year-old Newton told GQ he believes people's dislike of him has nothing to do with the fact that he is African-American. 

"It's not racism," Newton told the magazine. "Everybody's entitled to their own opinion."

When asked about a comment he made before Super Bowl 50 — “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to" — Newton replied, "I don't want this to be about race, because it's not. It's not. Like, we're beyond that. As a nation."

When pressed about the dislike some have for him, Newton said, “I’ll let you be the judge. I don’t look at it like that. I look at it like some people have certain beliefs, and I have my own belief, and we can agree to disagree on certain things. But this is what makes sports so amazing, that we can start a discussion around a table, in the newspaper, in the magazines, that will get people’s attention. And that’s what sports does.”

Not long after the article was published, Newton's name began trending on social media, with numerous users posting over-the-top pictures and memes expressing their disbelief at some of Newton's comments.