Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton put his head down and raised his fist in the air after scoring a touchdown on Sunday against the New England Patriots. After bringing his hand down, Newton proceeded to do his infamous “Superman” celebration, and returned to the sidelines with his team.
The gesture comes at a time when NFL players are speaking out more and more with political statements and immediately evokes the memory of Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists at the 1968 Summer Olympics.
After last week’s widespread demonstrations across the league, Week 4 has seen teams take the middle road of kneeling before the anthem and then standing for the playing of the song, as the Cowboys did last week on Monday Night Football.
While the idea of kneeling before the anthem was probably made in an effort to please all and offend none, many feel that it detracts from Colin Kaepernick’s original protest, which was against police brutality and inequality people of color face across the justice system. If players hope to make a statement without it being diluted by the larger idea of “unity” that the protests during the anthem now seem to embody, it’s possible that gestures like this become more common as players celebrate their touchdowns.
The score was the 50th rushing touchdown of Newton’s career, making him the first quarterback to ever accomplish the feat, and the Panthers won in New England 33-30.
You can watch Newton’s score and celebration below.
— NFL (@NFL) October 1, 2017