During the last two weeks of playoff action, the Carolina Panthers have delivered two brutal defeats to the Cardinals and Seahawks respectively en route to their Super Bowl berth. They have been clicking on all sides of the ball and capitalizing on their opponents every mistake.
No one player has played better football for the Panthers than their quarterback Cam Newton. Newton played phenomenal, picking apart two of the better defenses in the NFL and throwing for 496 yards, three touchdowns while rushing for an additional two touchdowns. Newton and the Panthers performance should surprise no one if you look over their season’s body of work.
Yet, somehow, this season Cam Newton has been called out for seemingly no justifiable reason. There have been plenty of doubters during Newton’s career and sometimes they’ve been justified. A few years ago, Newton had a rough patch of games and became irritated with both his and the team’s play. His frustration showed both on the field and during interviews so much so that eventually he was confronted about it by his teammates.
Following the confrontation, Newton has been, by NFL standards, a model citizen. In spite of his growth, Newton has had every criticism thrown against him this year, many targeted his character rather than his play on the field.
He has been called a thug by many, despite having no run-ins with the law. Others have accused him of being arrogant and “fake” because when he plays he always seems to have a smile on his face.
Perhaps the most infamous criticism that he received came in week nine of the season following a 27-10 beatdown of the Tennessee Titans when an opposing fan wrote a letter about how Newton’s celebration, a dancing dab, was offensive to her 9-year-old daughter and was a poor example to all the children watching him play. Despite all of this, Newton responded by brushing it off and continuing to play at an elite level.
This season, Newton threw over 3,800 yards, 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while leading his team to an impressive 15-1 record. Perhaps what is most impressive about this is that Newton was able to put up these numbers and lead his team to the Super Bowl with a very limited talent pool.
Early on in the season Newton lost his top receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a knee injury leaving him with a group of unproven and some injury-prone wide receivers. Further adding to potential problems was a running game that also lacked consistency. Newton’s only consistent weapon was tight end Greg Olsen. The only other quarterback to play at this level with so little weapons is Tom Brady, putting Newton near the same level as one of the best quarterbacks of this generation.
Cam Newton is now approaching a milestone that no other quarterback has ever done before. According to CBS Sports, if Newton wins the Super Bowl and League MVP he will be the only other player to win a Heisman, BCS National Championship, MVP and Super Bowl in the history of the NFL. Even if Newton is unable to complete this incredible feat, he will still have a lasting impact on the game.
Newton has revolutionized the quarterback position by being both a great runner and superior passer, something very seldom seen in the NFL and even more rare from a QB with a lack of skilled position players. Newton has also been the latest QB to try to disprove stereotypes for what is expected of an African American quarterback. The main stereotype being that black quarterbacks are only good runners, not passers, which Newton’s play over the last two seasons has disproved that notion.
Cam Newton has proven time and time again that he is an elite QB that will do everything in his power to put his team in position to win. He has grown significantly as a team player and face of a franchise while maintaining his image.
When Newton plays the game he shows his emotion and looks as though he is genuinely having fun, which makes watching him that more enjoyable. This Super Bowl Sunday you can expect to see Newton playing his heart out in an effort bring a Lombardi Trophy back to Charlotte for the first time in the team’s history. So maybe it is time that Cam Newton’s critics take a step back, look at all Newton has accomplished in his short career, and appreciate his greatness.
Statistics via ESPN.com