- Aug 28, 2015
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton throws a pass during practice for the NFL football team in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. The Panthers will meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif., on Feb. 7.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- 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 scares 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 putting up record-breaking numbers, said he learned a long time ago that he can't please everyone.
''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.