Will J McGarty
When I think of Cam Newton, I think of fun. I think of the huge smile on his face as he flies down the field out of the tunnels. I think of him giving touchdown balls away to young boys and girls in the stadium. I think of laser fast passes, strong runs and somersaulting into the end zone. I think of a guy who spends time with his community and who consistently gives to those in need. I think of a man with incredible talent and a huge heart. While this is the picture I have painted for you Cam, this is not what everyone sees when they think of him.
Ever since entering the league back in 2011, Cam has been the target of constant criticism. Early on, people questioned his ability as a passer. Spectators and analysts alike believed his success at Auburn would not translate well to the NFL. Many argued he would rely too heavily on his legs and that he would not last as an NFL quarterback. He then became the first rookie in NFL history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season, and holds the record for most total yards by a rookie.
After that, many questioned Cam’s ability as a leader. I remember watching the team in Cam’s sophomore season and it seemed almost as if the Panthers found ways to lose games late in the second half. With consistent losses and a frustrated team and fanbase, many in the media wondered if Cam had the leadership qualities that are inherent in great quarterbacks. Cam has now lead his team to three straight Divisional titles as well as a Super Bowl appearance against the Broncos this Sunday.
As a Panthers fan, I have watched Cam Newton play every game of his professional career. I have been there every step of the way and I remember it all. I remember the sulking. I remember people attacking Newton for his Superman celebration. I remember watching Colin Kaepernick mock that very celebration as the Panthers hosted and lost to San Francisco in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs in 2013. I remember taking my girlfriend to see a Thursday Night Football game at Bank of America Stadium against the Saints, and our own fans booing Cam and calling for backup Derek Anderson to replace him. I remember the car crash and fearing for Cam’s health. Through all the negativity, the doubt, injury and the speculation, Cam has continued to improve and has earned his place as the MVP of the NFL. While he has officially proved his merit as a player, he is now under the largest microscope to date, this time, for his celebrations.
It boggles my mind that people have become so caught up with Newton’s dancing. Almost every player, certainly almost every star, has developed their own way of celebrating their successes. Victor Cruz has the Salsa, Rob Gronkowski has the spike and Alfred Morris has the Home run; the list goes on and on. With so many athletes celebrating in almost every game, why is it that Cam has gotten so much grief over his celebratory antics? It is my belief that the criticism comes because critics are left with nothing else to say. Cam has paid his dues.
Each and every year he has not only managed to improve his game, but has also matured to the point where he is leading and excelling in all the game’s biggest moments. He may have not have always been the best role model in the league, but he is on the path to becoming one.
Heading to San Francisco to face the biggest challenge in his NFL career to date, it is my belief that he will continue to dominate and will silence the critics once and for all.
If I could talk to Cam before the big game, I would tell him not to change a thing. Do you, Cam. Go out there and have fun. Make the whole world see the picture that I see when I think of you. Keep dancing, in fact, dance all over the Broncos on the world’s largest stage. Finish what you started and for the first time in Carolina Panther history, bring home the Vince Lombardi Trophy to the Carolinas. I believe in you Cam; I always have, and I always will.