Sunday, January 17, 2016

Spotlight: Cam Newton

"The Panthers will reevaluate Monday the fractured foot of defensive end Jared Allen, but it appears the NFL's active sack leader (136) will miss the rest of the playoffs. That means the Panthers will have to adjust, likely moving Kony Ealy to the starting right end spot and signing Wes Horton off the practice squad. Horton started 15 games at the end last season but is considered more of a run-stopper. This could mean using Ryan Delaire in pass-rushing situations."
"I want it to be known that his mother and I are staunch Christian proponents of marriage and all things pertaining to legitimacy," Cecil says. "I have three sons and one woman, and I have been a living example all his life of what a man should be in a family. Cam is 26 years old, not 18 or 19. He has a heightened consciousness of who he is as a man, and I always tell him the decisions you make you have to live with short and long term. I don't style it as a mistake; I style it as something that can be a gift for him and the young lady. We're going to support them in every aspect -- physically, emotionally and spiritually."

Against Atlanta, after Chosen was born but before the world knew, Newton scored and incorporated a baby-rocking move into his celebration. After the loss, and after he had spent nearly an hour in silence at his locker, he was asked what the gesture meant. He dismissed the question with a wave of his hand and a shake of his head, making it clear it was a private message in a public moment.

The next week, after the season-ending win over the Bucs, which gave the Panthers the NFC's No. 1 seed, Newton walked into the interview room wearing a three-quarter-length sports coat, blue slacks, the swirly black-and-white shoes and no foxtail.

As the news conference wound down, Newton was asked what he will remember from the 2015 regular season. It was a softball, light and fluffy and lobbed over the heart of the plate.

Newton paused, and his smile vanished.

"We shouldn't have lost," he said, his voice trailing. "We shouldn't have lost."

That's it? After 15 wins and 35 touchdown passes and countless dances and all those unnamed Euro-step/jump shots, he will remember the loss? The one loss? It seems the NFL's resident big kid -- has the NFL considered a Big Kid Laureate program? -- would cite a particularly memorable dance move, or a little boy who was especially moved after being handed a ball after a touchdown, or an open-field juke that inflicted exceptional and long-lasting embarrassment on a linebacker.

But no. The one loss -- not the NFL-best four game-winning drives, not the 14 straight wins to start the season, not the records, not the ascension to the illustrious pantheon of the most fetishized gods in sport. No. The loss. The mood in the room shifts. The interview is over, and as Cam Newton walks away from the podium he leaves behind a lingering sense of that rarest of emotions: surprise.

And while Warren Moon dislikes the celebrations -- "I like that he gives the ball to a kid," he says, "but I think the quarterback gets enough attention already" -- Cecil Newton says, "People go so far as to time his celebrations. They're timing him. They'll say, '4.1 seconds is the norm, and he took it to 8.3.' If you're that scientifically concerned with a celebration, you have bigger problems than whatever he's doing."

During an interview with a team psychologist of an AFC North team at the combine, Newton was asked whether he sees himself more as a cat or a dog. When he suggested that the question was not relevant and that he saw himself more as a human being, he was immediately asked whether he had a problem with authority.

"African-American quarterbacks get analyzed in ways that others don't," Moon says. "We've dispelled a lot of those myths, but not all."

More information:
» ESPN: "The reason Cam Newton named his son Chosen"
» ESPN: "The joy of Cam Newton: How a polarizing QB made (great) football fun"

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