What many call playing the ‘race card’ Miami linebacker Kevin Burnett calls, “using the black excuse.”
Either way, the seventh-year pro is speaking out in support of Carolina QB Cam Newton.
Burnett credits Newton for not feeding into the cloud of racism which surrounds black quarterbacks in the NFL and the negative light it sheds on the intellect of black people as a whole.
“I want to see the ignorance tag go away now,” Burnett said zealously.
Newton refused to cite race as a reason why some doubted that he could be a productive quarterback in the NFL, according to an article by ESPN The Magazine.
“I can’t sit up here and look at it like, oh man, my critics are racist,” said Newton.
Instead, the 22-year-old blamed quarterbacks with the body type and skill set similar to his who have struggled in the league – both of whom happen to be black.
“I blame JaMarcus Russell and to some degree Vince Young. If you have the opportunity to make that kind of money doing something you love to do, why would you screw it up? I’m trying to be a trailblazer. If Baylor’s Robert Griffin decides to come out, I want people to say ‘He can be the next Cam Newton’ instead of ‘He’s gonna be the next JaMarcus Russell.’”
When asked is Newton a good example of a person who doesn’t use the ‘black excuse,’ Burnett said “Yes, without a doubt.”
“We’re trying to play that card on him,” he said referring to those who continually bring up race when discussing Newton and other black quarterbacks.
“That’s not fair, the use of the term black quarterback and all that. I hate it, I hate it and it’s old, it’s old.”
Burnett, who earned a master’s degree in business administration, took it a step further.
The Tennessee graduate wants all minorities to look at those who have gained success, even beyond football, as examples of why the ‘black excuse’ shouldn’t be used.
“The one thing that Barack Obama brought when he became president was he took away the ‘black excuse.’”
“So, I’d want to see people in my generation and the previous generation to stop using the ‘black excuse’ as just that, an excuse not to succeed.
Burnett will have those who will approve and others who will disparage his train of thought.
Those who disagree will of course point to the racial disparities in education and the workforce which continue to plague minorities.
However, it’s clear Burnett is genuine in his belief of personal responsibility and that minorities should avoid bringing up race whenever possible.
The 29-year-old, who hopes to become an athletic director once he steps away from playing football, understands racism still exists.
He simply feels minorities shouldn’t feed into the negative perceptions others have about them, which is why he’s proud of Newton for not playing the race card.
Burnett is having one of the most productive seasons of his career.
With 91 combined tackles, he’s just five away from passing his single-season best which he set as a member of the Chargers last year.