Arnold Palmer passed away last Sunday. He remained beloved sports figure until his, even though one must be nearly a senior citizen to remember his golfing prime. I understand he was still making tens of millions in endorsement in his 80's.
I don't know if he ever spoke out on politics or social issues. I don't know why he would.
I predict Peyton Manning will become the next Arnold Palmer. He's such a good commercial spokesman, he'll probably keep doing it for decades to come, long after contemporaries like Tom Brady and Brett Favre leave the public eye.
I don't know if Peyton Manning has spoken out on social issues. I don't know why he would.
It appears that nobody has demanded either to "speak out."
Now compare that to black athletes of similar stature.
Cam Newton was put on the spot regarding police killing of a black man in Charlotte. He admitted that anything he said, on whichever side, would anger somebody.
Thus, black athletes walk a tightrope. They want their "brand" to reach all races, but that means they are non-controversial. They're often criticized in the African-American community for not speaking out or doing enough. If they do speak out, they get backlash from many whites, who resent black men for not thinking the same way they do.
The decision to be or not to be controversial is itself controversial. That's why there won't be a black Arnold Palmer.