By Arjit Nair and Dylan Sanichara
The six foot five, 240-pound, five-star recruit out of Brenham, TX, became the staple of the Carolina Panthers' franchise. Newton attended Westlake High School in Atlanta, Georgia and committed to play college football for the Auburn Tigers. He had a decisive victory in which he was the 2010 SEC (Southeastern Conference) Offensive Player of the year, while also being designated as the 2010 AP (Associated Press) Player of the year. He then received the Heisman Trophy, which is annually given to the most outstanding player in college football. With all of these accomplishments, Cam Newton was believed by fans to be destined for the NFL and destined for greatness.
During the 2015-2016 NFL season, he was not only the face of the Panthers, but he was the face of the NFL as well. He won an MVP, led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and brought the Panthers to the Super Bowl. However, it was a heartbreaking loss for fans as Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller defeated Newton and the Panthers. After the season, both Newton and the Panthers were not the same. They continued to struggle, especially Newton.
Despite this, Newton was praised by NFL fans as he presented many iconic celebrations. He was labeled as Superman and was known for his dancing at games. From first downs to touchdowns, Newton would dab as a celebratory dance. It was not long before dabbing became the new buzz around the world.
“He’s been with the Panthers. He knows it’s his time again...”
However, Newton started to struggle with injuries and began to perform poorly, causing the Panthers to release him. When he got signed by the New England Patriots, he did not perform as well and was released this season.
During this offseason, the Jets traded Sam Darnold for a sixth-rounder in the 2021 draft and a second-rounder and fourth-rounder in the 2022 draft. However, Darnold got injured during week eight against the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers had back up quarterback P.J. Walker, but he had only started one game in his career, making him an undependable quarterback. Looking for a new quarterback, the Panthers re-signed Newton to the team.
“I think that it was a good signing. The backup for the Panthers is P.J. Walker who isn’t solid. The Panthers are trying to push for the playoffs. You need a leader with experience. Cam is a born leader with experience. He’s been with the Panthers. He knows it’s his time again,” said freshman Charlie Vasquez.
Artwork by Ashwathi Chemban
Fans believe that 2015 MVP award winner Cam Newton was "the face of the Panthers."
During the series of events with the Panthers, Newton was released from the Patriots. They wanted someone who could take them to the Super Bowl, and the Patriots thought that Newton was not that guy. With Newton as a free agent, the Panthers picked him up, hoping that he could lead them to the playoffs.
“It seems the Panthers are cleaning house. They might have signed him after the Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady got fired. Newton was in his prime when he was with the Panthers. Maybe the Panthers think that they could again spark what they had back in 2015, especially if they want a shot at the Bucs (Tampa Bay Buccaneers),” said freshman Alex Tomalski.
“Cam Newton is an influential player to Carolina. He was always a hardworking and determined player. It’s great to see him back on the team, but, unfortunately, he hasn’t been playing to his full potential. Hopefully we can see him grow on his team again, especially with a new coaching staff,” said freshman Jash Mody.
Fans express that Newton is undoubtedly an incredible quarterback. He is a threat to the defense when he is in the pocket and on the run. When he is at his best, it is rare to see someone stop him. But this brings up a question: Why did no other team sign him? Well, the reasons vary. Teams have set franchise quarterbacks like the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals and more. Another reason that people believe that teams did not sign him was because he was not vaccinated for COVID-19 for a period of time. Additionally, many teams did not want to sign Newton because he was injury prone and was not putting up the same numbers he used to.
Now that Newton is back with the Panthers, fans believe it may light a fire in him and he could put up MVP numbers. He could possibly even help the Panthers return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. It is the dawn of a new era with a familiar face.