Cam Newton Can't Seem to Escape the NFL's Respectability Politics—or Jeff Garcia's Stupidity: 'I’m Not Changing the Way I Dress'

Illustration for article titled Cam Newton Can't Seem to Escape the NFL's Respectability Politics—or Jeff Garcia's Stupidity: 'I’m Not Changing the Way I Dress'
Photo: Maddie Meyer (Getty Images)

White people looooove to police Black bodies, and within the sports landscape, there’s no greater example of this phenomenon than embattled quarterback Cam Newton.


Prior to being drafted in 2011, he met with former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson—who was forced to sell the team in 2018 after settlements involving sexual harassment and hurling racial slurs at a Black scout surfaced—when this happened, as told to journalist Charley Rose:

Richardson, who said that Newton “was dressed perfectly” for their meeting, was blunt. “I said, ‘Do you have any tattoos?’” Richardson told Rose. “He said, ‘No, sir. I don’t have any.’ I said, ‘Do you have any piercings?’ He said, ‘No, sir. I don’t have any.’ I said, ‘We want to keep it that way.’ . . . .

“We want to keep no tattoos, no piercings, and I think you’ve got a very nice haircut.”

Interjected the host: “You sound like a Lombardi.”

Said Richardson, “No, I just sound reasonable to me.”

Mind you, Cam was a grown-ass, 22-year-old man at the time, and was well within his right to do whatever the hell he damn-well pleased with his body. But racist-ass Richardson was trying to send a message—a message that oddly didn’t apply to white players whom Richardson was more than happy to bring on to the team that same season.

As Cam got older, his style of dress became far more expressive. He rocked cheetah pants with babushkas, fedoras with basketball shorts and learned to fully embrace his individuality while still dominating on the football field. Oh, and he grew his hair out too, which gave the Steve Harveys and Dr. Steve Perrys of the world fits.

For some inexplicable reason, Cam’s attire became more important to fans, pundits and former players than his play on his field—which was stellar until his aggressive style of play invited injuries that eventually derailed his 2018 and 2019 seasons. The Patriots then swooped in and snatched up the three-time Pro Bowler for pennies on the dollar in what was supposed to be Cam’s season of retribution. But thus far, it’s been a much bumpier ride than expected.


Cam playing like ass (he’s thrown five interceptions in the last two games for the 2-4 Patriots) has given his detractors free rein to tout their respectability politics and spew nonsense about how his choice of attire is somehow impacting his play on the field. And the latest imbecile to enter the fray would be former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia, who did everything short of calling Cam a nigger offered his own unsolicited opinion on a 49ers postgame show after the Patriots caught yet another L on Sunday.

“You go into this game two touchdowns, for interceptions. You throw, what? Three more interceptions? You get yanked in the second half, there’s nothing good going your way,” Garcia sneered. “So why are you dressing like that to bring more attention to yourself? I’d be trying to ask the equipment managers: ‘Put me in your jock sock cart and sneak me in the back door and I’ll show up on the field and do the best that I can.’”


Clearly, this all came from a deep place, as Garcia then admitted that this “goes back to a couple of years of just watching this guy and seeing him at the podium” and that “what he’s doing on the field does not translate to being that guy.” (Translation: He was waiting for Cam to suck to get this bullshit take off.)


For the uninformed, Cam has been dressing like this for a hot minute now, and during that period he’s:

  • Been named MVP
  • Been named Offensive Player of the Year
  • Been named to the All-Pro team
  • Been named to three Pro Bowl teams
  • Went to the Super Bowl
  • Collected more rushing touchdowns than any other quarterback in NFL history
  • Set the record for most games in NFL history with both a rushing and passing touchdown
  • Has a career 70-58 regular-season record as a starter

In layman terms, Cam’s been doing the damn thing from the jump regardless of whatever fedora or babushka he wore off the field. Meanwhile, Garcia will best be remembered for bouncing around the league, pissing off his own receivers, collecting DUIs and voting for Donald Trump in the upcoming election. Yet despite this, Cam felt the need to respond on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show.


“You know what’s crazy, I agree with him,” he said. “He’s exactly right. But I’m not changing the way I dress. I’m sorry.”


Uhhhhh actually no, Cameron Jerrell Newton. He’s not right. Especially considering Joe Namath basically did the exact same thing during his playing days and Garcia gave him a pass.

“When you predict you’re going to win a Super Bowl and go out and do it, wear whatever the hell you want,” Garcia said of Namath. “But right now I’m not buying it.”


Did Cam not play in a Super Bowl too? Make it make sense.


If you’re somehow able to ignore the racial undertones of Garcia’s attack then more power to you. But trust, this is yet another not-so-veiled attempt to police Black bodies. The difference is that this time, it happens to be coming from a former player who lacks the resume to offer such a stupid critique.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for y'all to stop putting sugar in grits.



Has Garcia not seen Garnder Minshew and Ryan Fitzpatrick? Those guys aren’t reminding anyone of 1990s Steve Young either and yet they’re cool to dress like they want I suppose?