Carolina Panthers quarterback and reigning MVP Cam Newton responded to the protests in North Carolina and across the country on Wednesday in the form of a 12-minute speech where he discussed oppression in America, but also the need for African-Americans to not be "hypocrites."
Before fully allowing the dust to settle, Shannon Sharpe took on Newton on FS1's "Undisputed" (H/T Sporting News).
Sharpe first noted Newton had softened his stance after a rough Super Bowl week, before discussing 'White America' and how it related to Sharpe:
"White America is saying, 'Cam Newton, you make $20-plus-million a year. You're one of the faces of the National Football League. You are the de facto face of the Carolina Panthers. Shut your mouth. We don't want to hear from you. Play football.'"
Newton's comments on Wednesday were key, as he discussed his perspective on issues in America and how it relates to him, via Sports Illustrated:
"I'm an African-American. I am not happy how the justice has been kind of dealt with over the years. The state of oppression in our community. But we also, as black people, have to do right by ourselves. We can't be hypocrites.
"I say that on one voice but also on another voice that when you go public or when things happen in the community, it's not the fact that things are happening. It's the way they're being treated after they're happening. When you get a person that does some unjust things or killing an innocent person, killing fathers, killing people who have actual families. That's real."
Newton's comments follow those of other athletes, such as Colin Kaepernick, who has kneeled as a form of protest to the national anthem. Newton has not, as of this writing, protested the national anthem.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
The NFL replied to the controversy with a statement, saying "Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem."
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