Cam Newton: I’m an African American QB that may scare people

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —¬†Panthers quarterback Cam Newton suggested for the first time Wednesday that race may play a factor in why he’s become a lightning rod for public criticism.

“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,” said the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton.

The No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft out of Auburn, Newton has his share of detractors who either don’t like how he plays, his celebrations or his abundance of self-confidence.

Newton, a leading league MVP candidate who is putting up record-breaking numbers, said he learned a long time ago that he can’t please everyone, and needs to be true to his personality.

“People are going to judge, and have opinions on things I don’t have control over,” Newton said.

The stout and speedy Newton is beating teams with his arm and his legs, throwing for 35 touchdowns and running for 10 this season. He has helped lead the Panthers (17-1) to their first Super Bowl since 2003. Carolina plays the AFC champion Denver Broncos on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, California.

Newton acknowledged being leery of talking about how others may perceive him.

“I think it’s a trick question,” Newton said. “If I answer it truthfully it’s going to be `Aw, he’s this or that.’ But I will say it anyway.

“I don’t think people have seen what I am or what I’m trying to do.”

Newton said he hasn’t change, and has previously responded to his critics.

“I said that prior to me being in this situation,” Newton said of being understood. “But when I said it then it was like, `Oh he is immature,’ or, `Oh he’s young and this that and the third.’ I felt a certain type of way then and I feel a certain type of way now – nothing has pretty much changed. They talk about maturity. They talk about skillset. … The only thing that has changed (about me) is that we’re winning now.”

Panthers coach Ron Rivera doesn’t believe Newton should have to fight perceptions about race.

“I think he has always strived to have that separation,” Rivera said. “I don’t think he wants to be known as an African-American quarterback; he wants to be known as a quarterback. I think that is what drives him, to be able to transcend those boundaries, which I think is great.”

Rivera, who is Hispanic, said he has battled that notion to some degree himself.

“It really should be about your merits more than anything else,” Rivera said. “More about what you have accomplished, what you have done. I think that is how we should judge people.”

Rivera said some people may simply not like Newton because of his personality.

The All-Pro quarterback plays the game with open enthusiasm, pointing his arms forward after running for a first down, doing the “dab” in the end zone and pretending to rip open his shirt like Superman. He gets his teammates to pose for pictures on the sideline near the end of games when the outcome is no longer in doubt.

None of that bothers Rivera, who said Newton needs to remain true to himself.

“I think some people believe you should be stoic when you play this game,” Rivera said. “But a lot of people disagree and think you should have fun. This is a kid’s game. I know there is a lot of money involved, but at the end of the day it’s about entertainment. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, don’t play the game -it’s that simple.”

Bennett doesn’t fear backlash for skipping White House trip

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HOUSTON (AP) Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett says he is not worried about upsetting team owner Robert Kraft by not attending New England’s trip to the White House as Super Bowl champions.

Bennett said after the Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Falcons on Sunday night that he’s “not going to go” to the traditional meet-and-greet with the president. It will be the first visit of a Super Bowl champion to Washington since Donald Trump was sworn into office.

Trump’s positions have alienated some athletes, which has raised questions about whether some might choose to skip the trip while the new president is in office.

But Bennett said he isn’t concerned about it and thinks the team believes “in whatever I want to do.”

Kraft is a supporter of Trump and attended a celebration dinner in Washington for him the night before his inauguration.

Patriots’ Tom Brady earns 4th Super Bowl MVP trophy with epic comeback

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HOUSTON (AP) The greatest quarterback in NFL history led the biggest Super Bowl comeback to be the MVP on Sunday night.

Tom Brady rallied New England from a 25-point third-quarter deficit for a 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history to earn his fifth Super Bowl title and fourth MVP trophy.

“They’re all sweet,” he said. “They’re all different and this was just an incredible team and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” he said.

Brady threw touchdown passes of 5 and 6 yards in the second half and tied things at 28-28 when he connected withDanny Amendola on a 2-point conversion with 57 seconds left.

He then directed the drive in overtime which ended with a 2-yard run by James White to make the Patriots the first team to win a Super Bowl after trailing by more than 10 points.

“We all brought each other back,” he said. “We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle.”

His performance certainly wasn’t without its struggles. His incredible second half and overtime came after a first half where the Patriots managed just three points and he threw an interception which Robert Alford returned 82 yards for a touchdown. He was hurried and harassed for much of the games. The Falcons sacked him five times and hit him on another eight occasions.

He noted the beating he took when he was trying to recount the details of the comeback and couldn’t remember what the score was at one point in the rally.

“There was a lot of (stuff) that happened tonight,” he said. “I got hit pretty hard.”

His 466 yards passing are a Super Bowl record, surpassing the 414 yards Kurt Warner had 17 years ago. He also set a record for most passes completed in a Super Bowl with 43 and most attempts with 62.

He is the first to play in seven Super Bowls and the victory ties him with Charles Haley for most Super Bowl rings.

After all Brady has done in his career, was this his finest moment?

“Tom’s had a lot of great ones,” coach Bill Belichick said. “But, yeah tonight was one of them.”

It’s a triumphant end to a difficult season for Brady, who missed the first four games because of his “Deflategate” suspension and dealt with his mother Galynn Brady suffering through an undisclosed illness. The Super Bowl was the first game she’s attended all season.

“They’re all happy,” he said fighting back tears. “It’s nice to have everybody here and it’s going to be a great celebration tonight.”

He shared a quick moment with her right after the game, but was looking forward to more time with her in the upcoming days.

“It’s kind of madness after the game so I didn’t get much quality time with her but we’ll get it this week,” he said.

But he certainly wasn’t asking for sympathy for his rough road to this title though, chuckling when someone asked about the adversity the Patriots have gone through in the past couple of years.

“We’ve done pretty good over the last few years … so I don’t think anyone’s feeling bad for the Patriots,” he said. “I don’t think anyone feels bad for the Patriots.”

Brady also collected the MVP trophy in 2001, 2003 and 2014.

“It was just a lot of mental toughness by our team and we’re going to remember this one for the rest of our lives,” Brady said.

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