Thursday on ESPN2’s “First Take,” co-host Stephen A. Smith responded to Carolina Panthers star quarterback Cam Newton not saying in an interview that he agrees with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, by saying Newton is only out trying to protect his brand.
Instead of taking sides, Newton told ESPN’s Trey Wingo that people should not worry about race and should just do right by each other.
“I was incredibly disappointed in what he had to say,” Smith began, after saying he “hated” Newton’s comments.
Smith went on to bring up America’s “insidious behavior” throughout history that he said has held African-Americans back.
“Here’s what it comes down to for me,” he said. “What I saw was a superstar athlete who is the reigning league MVP who stars in the NFL right now for the Carolina Panthers, thinking about his brand. And is that new to us? We’ve got guys that are millionaires, 10, 20, 50, 100 times over, scared to take a position.”
In the rant, Smith said the “level of fearfulness” by Newton to speak out on racism, which the quarterback has previously said the nation is no longer dealing with, is “alarming” to him.
“Where’s your heart?” Smith asked. “Everybody’s about protecting their brand. Everybody about making sure we don’t offend everybody, or whatever the case may be. Where’s your heart at? Especially when you are set anyway. Cam Newton signed for over $100 million. $60 million guaranteed. That means if all else fails, he’s got $60 million coming to him. What [are] you scared of?”
This is not the first time an African-American employee at ESPN has questioned Cam Newton’s thoughts on race. Last month, Bomani Jones said Newton’s belief that the country is beyond racism was a “bald-headed lie.”
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