You may have heard about someone named Cam Newton. He’s the starting quarterback for the North Carolina based NFL, team, the Carolina Panthers. Newton has been in the national spotlight since his college years and his career has been decorated with success, but also highly scrutinized since his college days, in which he went to three different schools.

These transfers stemmed from illegal actions which resulted in disciplinary action and a removal from the team, and school, at the University of Florida – he ended up being the starting quarterback on a national champion Auburn Tigers team.   Since his first television appearances, Newton has brought flair, personality and zeal to the game, and has been criticized for it. His latest public criticism started with a letter written by a Tennessee Titans fan, after Newton did a touchdown celebration after scoring a touchdown in the game against the Titans saying that his touchdown celebration was filled with ‘pelvic thrusts’ and ‘arrogant struts’, claimed his taunting to be arrogant and egoistic, and reminded him that he is a role model for children (as if he did not know and acted as if he wasn’t).

Now, I do not know Cam Newton well, but it is safe to say that he is a confident individual. But, to say that he is egoistic because of a touchdown celebration is way too judgmental. One would have to call 99% of NFL players egoistic as touchdown celebrations are expected and occur more often than not. The touchdown celebration that this person was referring to is called the ‘Dab’. ‘Dabbing’ is an Atlanta based dance which started by black people and has been popularized by hip-hop rappers such as ‘Migos’, and many others. Dabbing is the latest cultural phenomenon and has been performed by much more than black people.

(The video of the dance the Titans fan referred to is in this article.)

Cam Newton has been known to celebrate hip-hop culture. From being in rap videos, appearing on stage at hip-hop concerts, and touchdown celebrations, it is clear that Cam supports, and has a love for hip-hop culture. And, many people have called Newton a thug because of his close connection with hip-hop. The problem is, who is calling Newton a thug? And, what does being a thug mean? Since being in the NFL he has had no run-ins with the law. He holds numerous charity events and gave out 900 turkeys the day before Thanksgiving, this year. He is the starting quarterback on the only undefeated team in the NFL. Yet, he is a thug. Is being a thug enjoying hip-hop music? Does being associated with black culture mean one cannot be a role model? OR, does being black and associating with black culture mean one cannot be a role model? Just last week, a Kansas City Chiefs player scored a touchdown and celebrated by ‘Hitting the Quan’. ‘The Quan’ is also a popularized dance, based in Atlanta that has spread nationwide. The interesting thing here is that ‘Hitting the Quan’ actually mimicks having sex, so there is obviously a lot of hip thrusting. Yet, there was no backlash, no question of this person’s character, and no “thug” label. I challenge you to simply ask, why? Take a look at the Newton celebration and the Kansas City Chiefs players’ celebration – you tell me what’s worse.

Now, why is Cam Newton called a thug?



2 thoughts on “Thug?

  1. It fascinates me to see what is covered by the media and how people understand public figures who are black. I’ve only read about Cam Newton in the context of a recent play against the Green Bay Packers (my favorite team). After a touchdown, Cam Newton tracked down a ball to give it to a young fan who recently lost his father (

    This is such a completely different narrative than the one that is presented in the coverage you posted above. It seems like black players face much more scrutiny than white players. Aaron Rodgers, my favorite player, has never received the kind of coverage that Newton receives in the post above. Broadly, Aaron Rodgers is able to just play the game. Clearly Newton values attention in a different way than Rodgers, but he clearly faces dramatically more criticism if he steps outside of white, mainstream society’s exceptions.

    While it seems like Newton is a genuinely kind and generous person, all of that good behavior is neglected when he begins to dance.


  2. After reading this, the funniest part about the media’s weird fascination on Cam Newton’s celebration moves is that it somehow brings about this conversation you discussed about role models. But I just don’t see how his dancing can hurt his role model credibility. They are so fixated on making his dancing a problem when I am pretty sure he is following the NFL’s guidelines on celebrations. Following the rules makes you a thug nowadays, depending on who you are. I also seen some comments blaming Newton’s dance moves for Odell Beckham jr.’s recent suspension, because it somehow promoted thug culture. Racecraft is senseless


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