Cam Newton has a special place in the heart of Black America. His unapologetic charisma, confidence and swagger have been the target of certain media types throughout his football career, but his infectious energy is undeniable. His perseverance is elite and the reason why he remains a starting QB in the NFL today.
Cam Hit The Scene Like A Tornado
The polarizing and often misunderstood football freak hit the NFL by storm in 2011, becoming the first rookie to throw for over 4,000 yards. As his career developed, his skill set diversified and the Carolina Panthers decided to go all in on Cam and make him the centerpiece of the entire offense.
It worked for a while as Cam was up to the task, relying on his legs to lead his dominance, but also possessing a rifle arm that can hit receivers on the run. Carolina went from nobody to contenders and, in 2015, in the Super Bowl.
He was really Charlotte’s first superstar athlete.
If Cam wasn’t dabbing and creating a dance sensation across the globe, popularized by the Migos, then he was giving out touchdown balls to sick kids and awestruck fans of his home team and opposing squads.
While his peak years weren’t as lengthy as one might hope, the way Cam Newton transcended the game of football made it more popular and connected with fans in a way that few superstars ever have is undeniable.
Transcended The Culture
You have to mention Cam’s impact on the game before we even start talking about his 75- career-rushing TDs, which dwarfs the next nearest signal caller (Steve Young has 43). Cam also has the second most rushing yards all-time by a quarterback (second to Michael Vick) and over 32,300 passing yards. So his resume is probably already HOF worthy.
Most of the criticism comes because of the way his skills have eroded and rather than retire before he fell of a cliff, Cam decided to hang on and be more than just a football player. In his recent return to Carolina, Cam has been part of an attempted culture transformation, more than a winning QB. And cheerleaders don’t win games.
As Cam’s career winds down and he becomes a journeyman, at every stop head coaches are hoping to catch lightning in the bottle. But Cam Newton is never reverting to the incomparable superstar that helped usher in the era of the dual-threat quarterback as a viable winner.
Chump Change On Sunday
Newton’s down-the-field passing was nonexistent once again as he mustered just 156 yards passing and missed a crucial fourth-and-two completion that ended any hopes of a win in Carolina’s 31-14 beating at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. Cam’s longest completion went for 23 yards, and that was a catch and run. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule had this to say:
“Certainly right now, our passing down the field is not one of our strengths,’’ Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said. “Holding onto the football in kind of those duress situations is not really one of our strengths.’’
Rhule, who got rid of Cam when he first took over in Carolina, is probably constantly answering questions about why he second-guessed himself and brought the franchise icon back midway through this season. Then again, the reconciliation was always more about cleaning up how things ended in Cam’s first stint in Carolina than a new beginning. The Panthers are 5-9, and in last place in the NFC South. Cam is 1-4 in five starts and hasn’t reached 200 yards passing in any of them.
With Sam Darnold almost healthy enough to go, this is probably Cam’s last hoorah for real.
Cam is still hanging in there and you have to respect his grind, but his days of leading the charge with anything more than some inspirational words and a willingness to ram his body and head into 260-pound defenders is over. The former NFL MVP has had a couple of moments over the past few seasons that gave the football world hope that he could possibly age as gracefully as Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers have.
Those moments were few and far between. It’s become obvious that the same uniqueness and combination of strength, speed, agility and determination that made the former Auburn Tigers Heisman winner “something the NFL has never seen before” also expedited his expiration date.
It’s time for Cam to hang it up. At age 32. He’s similar to a boxer that still looks like he never got hit after 100 fights. The million-dollar smile. The chiseled physique. The Black Adonis who can start walking runways in Milan today if he wanted too. But he’s punch drunk beneath the surface and it shows up when he executes his craft.
It’s not an insult. How bad does he really want it to get? How much brain dysfunction does he want to deal with when he’s 45 and retired? What kind of Cam will he be for his kids?
Hall of Fame Future Still Undecided
The Hall of Fame argument will be there for years to come. Cam Newton’s place in football history will reveal itself over time, once the football universe has a chance to reflect on his accomplishments and put them into perspective — personal feelings and media influence aside.
For now, Cam needs to think about his future and he has nothing to prove. He’s back with Carolina, the franchise he built with his bare hands and now he can retire with the team that made him a No. 1 overall draft pick and rode him to numerous moments of glory.
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