Cam Newton’s stunning leadership of the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl 50 has surely cemented his position as the best quarterback in the NFL, and quite probably the most valuable player in any position.
If any further proof is needed, Newton will have his chance to quash the doubters against the Denver Broncos in American sport’s grandest game on Sunday February 7, live on Sky Sports – lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy would take the Panthers’ season to 18-1, tying the all-time record over a 19-game season.
We’ve looked back over what Newton brings to the table…
It appears that Newton plays his best football when the chips are down. He is just 26 years old but has emerged as more than just a talented influence for this Panthers team – he has become a de facto captain of the troops, leading from the centre of the field with a beaming smile and a cocky streak that makes him even more watchable. Newton dominated the NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals at the weekend, running in two touchdowns and throwing two more. The Panthers, thanks to his focus in the biggest moment of the season so far, set a scoring record for an NFC final by winning 49-15 as Newton completed 19 of 28 passes for 335 yards.
The people’s champ
It is not only Newton’s on-field skills that have made his star shine brighter than his quarterback rivals. Could you imagine the old-school Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning embracing supporters so fervently? The quarterback who never stops smiling has a heart-warming tradition of giving every touchdown ball to a youngster cheering his name. That is not to say that Brady, Rodgers or Manning do not appreciate their supporters but nobody connects with the man in the crowd as naturally as Newton.
On one occasion against the New Orleans Saints this season, a scrooge official paid no attention to Newton’s post-touchdown tradition but the Panthers man wouldn’t be denied. The pearly white teeth of his grin never dimmed as he hunted down the ball and gifted it to an appreciative fan who must have thought their moment had vanished.
Unrivalled agility… and swagger
Newton has redefined the positioned of quarterback with his athleticism and rushing ability. At 6ft 5in and nearly 250lbs he is an inch shorter and almost identical in weight to British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua, yet Newton is sprinting through NFL defences packed with equally muscular specimens and occasionally somersaulting into the end-zone.
He is far younger and much less battle-worn than the likes of Brady or Manning but Newton’s varying play at quarterback makes it appear like an altogether different position. The agility in his lower body to dart into the end zone is made even more impressive by the way that Newton transfers those skills into touchdown-celebrating dancing…
Newton allowed himself to play with a microphone attached for the Panthers’ game against the Washington Redskins earlier this season and, for the first time, his unique on-field personality was revealed. Previously, all we knew was that he played the game with a smile on his face like a gridiron Ronaldinho – the video above shows Newton spending time with a young fan, daring the Redskins to hit him harder and, best of all, hilariously teasing an official.
Back in October, the Panthers were trailing 23-20 with the clock ticking down. They had the ball on their own 20-yard line but, with the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom staring menacingly back at them, it looked likely that the Panthers’ great season would be curtailed. But Newton hurled an 80-yard pass towards Greg Olsen, who did the rest, reversing the scoreline in the closing moments of the game. It was the Panthers’ fourth 80-yard drive of the game proving Newton can create touchdowns from virtually any distance on the field.