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Cam Newton: Rise in black QBs shouldn't be a big deal

Nine black quarterbacks started in the NFL during Week 1. It was the highest number the league had ever seen.

Is it the signal of a coming sea change in the NFL? Or is it an anomaly -- a narrative that feels familiar because it is?

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was asked during his Wednesday news conference if this should be seen as a big deal.

"Absolutely not," Newton said. "You don't have a bar mitzvah just because you're starting an African-American quarterback in this league."

Newton said he doesn't believe race hinders anyone at his position, though he did acknowledge he had to fight to remain a quarterback during his formative years.

"Even leading up to college, having a lot of athleticism playing the quarterback position was looked down upon," said Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. "Especially the size, the speed, the stature gave coaches nods to say, 'Hey, let's put him at wide receiver, at tight end.' I heard all that. But it never derailed me from playing or living up to my dream."

Newton was asked if he believes his success can help young players.

"My job is to be the best quarterback that I can be," he said. "And along those ways I hope I can motivate, I can encourage, I can give someone a belief in Wisconsin, in Washington D.C., all across America, even all across the world, to say, 'Hey, Cam did it when he was 6-5, 250. I don't have to be limited to playing the offensive line, defensive line, safety. I want to play the position I can play.' "

Nine black quarterbacks out of 32 remains out of sync with a league predominantly populated by African-American players. Time will tell if 2013 was the season when things truly started to change.

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