SAN JOSE, Calif — Cam Newton doesn’t know why he’s criticized so much for dancing. And frankly, he doesn’t care.
The Panthers’ polarizing quarterback made it clear on Monday night that he won’t ditch the ‘Dabbing’ or tone down his exuberant on-field excitement.
“I guess you’re going to have to get used to it, cause I don’t plan on changing,” he said with a smile during the NFL’s Super Bowl Opening Night event.
So what type of celebration does the dual-threat quarterback have planned if he scores a touchdown against the Broncos in Super Bowl 50?
“Stay tuned,” he said, smirking.
Newton touched on several topics during his 40-plus minutes at the podium, including religion and his father’s influence as a church pastor. The 26-year-old also took time to deliver a message to young people.
“I’m just trying to give them hope,” said Newton, who has made a habit since his rookie year of hand-delivering footballs to kids in the stands after the Panthers score. “I promise you, I’m not trying to offend anyone that doesn’t understand. I’ll be the first to tell you, I made mistakes.”
Newton unintentionally sparked a race debate after he said last week that as an African-American quarterback, he “may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.” He later clarified in a ESPN interview that he didn’t mean it as “a race thing” but rather to say that he wants to “be a trailblazer” for athletic quarterbacks.
On Monday night he expounded on his larger point.
“I was trying to give hope for people that may be a step outside the box from being labeled, ‘this player, that player,’ ” he said. “For me, I’ve always kind of viewed things differently, played differently. Not in the prototypical way. So for that athletic quarterback coming out, for that person that may have made a mistake in their life, they can look at me and say, ‘Well, Cam did it. So I can still have hope to do it. Whether you go to a major Division I school or not, or you go the junior college route or not, you still have an opportunity to live out your dreams.”
And that’s what he’s doing now.
Playing in the Super Bowl was his childhood dream, back when guys such as Steve McNair, Steve Young, Ben Roethlisberger and Michael Vick, to name a few, were his idols. And on Sunday, Newton will get the chance to take his dream a step further, by becoming a champion.
So if he and the Panthers find a way to defeat Peyton Manning and the Broncos, expect to see a lot more dancing.
“I think this year I’ve had a lot of reasons to smile,” Newton said. “And hopefully, I’ll keep smiling and have a reason to smile on Sunday.”
Asked if anyone in the league has as much as fun as him on the field, he smiled again.
“I hope not,” he said. “I don’t think I have fun when I’m losing. So I plan on keeping that type of vibe: celebrating or smiling when something good happens. So I plan on having a lot of things to smile about on Sunday. Hopefully.”
Newton’s larger-than-life personality may rub some people the wrong. But he refuses to apologize for the confidence he has in himself and his teammates.
Asked about the Panthers’ chances against the Broncos in Super Bowl 50, Newton said: “If we are at our best and another team is at their best, we will still win.”