NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton started an uproar Wednesday when he answered a question about why he’s such a lightning rod.

“I said it since Day One: I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing that they can compare me to,” the Super Bowl-bound QB responded.

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His comments touched off a debate in the press, on social media and around office watercoolers about whether or not race is to blame and, if not, what is it about Newton that rubs some people the wrong way?

Here is what some current and former NFL players had to say on the topic.

Doug Williams, former Buccaneers and Redskins quarterback and the first black quarterback to win a Super Bowl:

Doug Williams (credit: Getty Images)

Doug Williams (credit: Getty Images)

“I’m not going to be the one who says what my thinking is, because sometimes it don’t matter what I think. It ain’t going to matter what (Newton) thinks. Because at the end of the day you’ve got a lot of people denying (racism is behind the criticism of Newton), that that’s not true. Even if it’s true, they’re going to deny it.

“I think Cam is mature enough, he knows what he’s up against. He knows what he has to deal with. And he’s got a daddy, he’s got grandparents, he’s got older people who’ve lived in this world long enough to understand why a lot of things happen to certain people. He’s got a right to understand that (race) could be one of the problems.”

Source: USA Today

Brian Urlacher, former Bears linebacker:

Brian Urlacher (credit: Getty Images)

Brian Urlacher (credit: Getty Images)

“I played defense so I don’t like when guys celebrate with dances and stuff. You know who I like the way he celebrates is Peyton. He kind of gives the guy a handshake and goes back to the sidelines. I think that’s a great celebration right there. You don’t see him dancing. You don’t see him doing all of that stuff. Even when he gets a first down he doesn’t do anything.”

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Source: USA Today

Brandon Marshall, Jets wide receiver:

Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall warms up before facing the Washington Redskins on Oct. 18, 2015, at MetLife Stadium. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (credit: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

“It’s a generational thing, and I just stick to that. I don’t think it’s racial. I just think that there’s a box that we put our quarterbacks in and we say, ‘This is how you’re supposed to be. This is how Peyton Manning did it, this is how Joe Montana did it, Tom Brady, so you do it the same way.

Source: “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore”

Chad Johnson, former Bengals wide receiver:

Chad Johnson (credit: Getty Images)

Chad Johnson (credit: Getty Images)

“Oh my the comments about Cam on various outlets is quite disturbing… Wow.”

Source: Twitter

Domonique Foxworth, former Broncos cornerback and former president of the NFL Players Association:

Domonique Foxworth (credit: Getty Images)

Domonique Foxworth (credit: Getty Images)

“It’s him standing up for a segment of our culture that has not always been accepted, especially at that position. And I’m so proud of him, and it gave me goosebumps, and I was thrilled to hear it, and it’s something that I spoke of earlier is it seems to me he’s one of the first athletes that has refused to, especially at that position, has refused to conform and suppress part of his culture and part of who he is. And in my mind, it’s an advancement.”

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Source: ESPN’s “Mike & Mike”