Panthers QB Newton says TD celebration was for 'Black Power'

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After Cam Newton scored a rushing touchdown during the Carolina Panthers' win over the New England Patriots, the quarterback stood with a raised fist in the end zone.

Newton, who stood during the national anthem before the game, said Wednesday he might have some sort of protest in the wake of United States president Donald Trump's divisive comments last weekend.

Newton's touchdown gave Carolina a 30-16 lead early in the fourth quarter and the Panthers held on for a 33-30 victory. Newton, who threw for 316 yards and three scores while rushing for 44 yards and the seven-yard touchdown, explained his touchdown celebration following the game.

"It was to signify Black Power, but more importantly, I pray every night for God to give me a pinnacle to give people hope," Newton said. "I did it to raise - to show Black Pride because I am an African American, but more or less, I want all people just to see when I play, I want them to see the joy that I go out there and play with.

"Win, lose or draw, it was a great win for us today. I just hope that I put a lot, or not I, we as a team put a lot of smiles on the beautiful people of the Carolinas."

Trump said during a September 22 speech in Alabama that any player who kneels during the national anthem is a "son of a b****" who should be fired. He followed up those comments with a series of tweets over the weekend. That prompted NFL teams to display solidarity league-wide with teams kneeling either before or during the anthem. Kneeling during the anthem was a protest started last year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who wanted to bring awareness to police brutality against people of colour and other racial injustices. 

While speaking with the media on Wednesday, Newton referred to Kaepernick as a "legend".

"We cannot forget the fact that sports as a whole brings people together," Newton said Sunday. "For the two hours, three hours, whenever a time that a sporting event is on or your team is playing, we know that a lot of people from different shapes, colours, creeds, ethnicities and cultures come together. At that moment, they're rooting for the same thing.

"We try to unify people with that, and that's all it is. Unity is something that's going to cure a bad mentality in this country, and I feel as if we all stick together, if we all come together and listen, hear, speak, we can better help the situation. Because, a lot of situations that are going on right now in our country are trying to cause division. We get nowhere divided."

"I said that earlier this week, and we know sticking together is something that we do," Newton continued. "I wear the colours proudly. I stand for the national anthem, and I don't look down upon a person who doesn't feel that they want to. You have to respect another man's judgement for why they're protesting. It's been some type of flack from the national anthem, people protesting in streets, it's been flack from any type of protest, but at the end of the day, it's still cause for concern for people to listen to each other.

"As a football player, as an entertainer to a lot of people, I just want everybody to just come together and find ways. I think that's what sports does - basketball, football, hockey, water polo, golf - it doesn't matter because when you're looking in the stands, it's no racial tension outside of that, and a lot of people are just rooting for each other. I know that's going to be heavily contingent upon whatever is moving forward, but I just hope and I pray to God that this country finds the energy and the heart to come together as a whole."