‘You Gave Up on Me’: Panthers Bring Back Cam Newton After Rocky Breakup, Returning Him to Franchise He Helped Build

Life has come full circle for Cam Newton as he returns to the franchise he built through toughness and grit.

For nine years he was the face of the Carolina Panthers, leading them to the Super Bowl and winning league MVP in 2015. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound athletic specimen put the Panthers on his back and carried them for years.

From his charismatic way with words to his well-known take on fashion, Newton was an icon in Charlotte, and now he gets the opportunity to give it one more go-round in the place he started and built. He signed a one-year deal worth up to $10 million, with $4.5 million guaranteed; he also received a $1.5 million roster bonus. Newton is slated to start Sunday.

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In 2007-2008 following high school, there was a stint at Florida as Tim Tebow’s backup, until a run-in with the law ended his time with the Gators.

He then transferred to Blinn College, where he led them to the 2009 NJCAA National Championship. After being named a JUCO All-American honorable mention, Newton quickly became the most recruited JUCO quarterback in the country.


Newton received offers to attend a ton of Power 5 programs, with Auburn winning out. He arrived on campus looking for stability and an opportunity to flash that smile that he so often does while playing. He found lightning in a bottle as the Tigers would win the BCS National Championship. He also won the Heisman Trophy despite allegations that his dad Cecil was selling his services to the highest bidder out of JUCO.

Panthers brass was in attendance when he led the Tigers back from a 24-0 deficit to beat Alabama and then led the Tigers to the national championship with a win over the Oregon Ducks. They knew who they wanted; Newton was the best prospect in the draft even after one season of film and the eye test proved it.

He Doesn’t Disappoint In Rookie Season

Newton showed just how great he could be in the first game of his NFL career by becoming the first rookie to pass for 400-plus yards in a game. The mark broke the rookie passing yards record on opening day held by Peyton Manning. Newton wasn’t done as he continued to shine weekly, breaking his own record the next week with a 432-yard outing against the Packers.

Year after year, Newton carried the Panthers and head coach Ron Rivera despite being the most-hit QB in the NFL. A ton of those hits were of the late variety, ones most Caucasian QBs get called in their favor.

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Newton’s Famous Dab, Superman Gesture, And Fan Interaction

When Cam Newton scored a touchdown, he always use to “Dab” or grab his chest making the “Superman” gesture. It was something fans of all ages came to see, especially young ones who if lucky enough could receive the ball Newton had just scored with. It was all part of the Cam Newton cultural phenomenon. All done with that big smile and bravado he’s always possessed.

It never happened more than in his MVP season of 2015 when he led the Panthers to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. During that season, Newton touched paydirt 45 times (35 passing and ten rushing touchdowns). It was a weekly dab and Superman fest in the end zone at home or on the road. Newton made watching and attending football games enjoyable, and this writer was lucky enough to see it first-hand in Washington a couple of times.

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Injuries Mount Up And Team Decides To Move On

When owner David Tepper began cleaning the house in Carolina, one had to know head coach Ron Rivera and QB Cam Newton were going to be a part of the housecleaning. Newton and Rivera went 68-55-1 as a duo, but with the team getting younger and Newton dealing with different lingering injuries (shoulder, foot injury), they felt it was time to move on from Newton.

Following the 2019-20 season, which saw Newton miss the final 14 weeks, the team told him he could seek a trade. General manager Marty Hurney had this to say about it on Twitter.

“Every year difficult decisions are made, and they are never easy. We have been working with Cam and his agent to find the best fit for him moving forward and he will always be a Carolina Panther in our hearts.”

Newton was quick to denounce it, saying he never requested a trade via Twitter.

“Stop with the word play!! I never asked for it! There is no dodging this one; I love the Panthers to death and will always love you guys!! Please do not try and play me or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this: You forced me into this.”

After not finding a trade partner, Newton was subsequently released by the franchise he’d built and carried for nine seasons.

Newton Proclaims Panthers Quit On Him Following Release

“They gave up on me,” Newton posted on Instagram.

Newton, a workout warrior who always keeps himself in shape and ready, watched as the spring and summer of 2020 went by amidst COVID-19, and with the belief that someone would sign him beginning to wane, Bill Belichick and Patriots jumped and signed him to a one-year deal.

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Newton struggled in the Patriots offense, a problematic offense to grasp in a regular year, let alone a year marred by a pandemic that completely cut out face-to-face interaction. Newton was thought to return as the starter in 2021, but while he had COVID, the Pats’ rookie first-round draft pick Mac Jones showed well, and Belichick decided to go with him as the starter. Newton was released during final cuts and had been waiting for an opportunity ever since.

Now he’ll get that opportunity where he started, built, and carried an entire franchise for almost ten years. Some things are just right, and this is one of them.

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