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Jerry Rice: Accuracy, not race, the issue with Cam Newton

BCS Championship Football

Auburn’s Cam Newton celebrates with fans after beating Oregon 22-19 in the BCS National Championship NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)


As Auburn quarterback Cam Newton continues to face more scrutiny than any other player in this year’s draft, some observers -- including Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon -- have said they see racial bias in the way Newton is being scrutinized.

But another Hall of Famer, Jerry Rice, sees things differently. Rice said this morning on ESPN Radio that he believes African-American quarterbacks were discriminated against in the past, but that the league has advanced beyond those days.

“I think the NFL is so much further now,” Rice said. “I don’t think race is a factor.”

Rice said he has met Newton and came away impressed, both with Newton’s attitude and with what an imposing physical specimen Newton is. But Rice said that there are legitimate questions about whether Newton has the tools to be a pro-style passer.

“It’s going to boil down to accuracy,” Rice said. “He’s going to have to be able to drop back, plant himself and deliver that football. During his workouts the ball was a little high, all over the place.”

Ultimately, that’s the only question that matters about Newton: Whether he can transition from a great spread-offense quarterback in college to a great pro-style quarterback in the NFL.