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CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) – Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has suggested for the first time that race may play a factor in why he’s become such a lightning rod for public criticism.

The league MVP candidate said Wednesday, “I’m an African-American quarterback that scares people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to.”

Newton, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft out of Auburn, has more than his fair share of detractors. who either don’t like how he plays, his celebrations or his self-confidence.

Newton is putting up record-breaking numbers, but says he learned he can’t please everyone, and needs to be true to himself.

The quarterback says “people are going to judge, and have opinions on things I don’t have control over.”

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