Could Cam Newton be one of the most polarising players in football? Undoubtedly a great talent, the number 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft has been picked to 3 Pro Bowls and was the NFL MVP in 2015 after leading the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl. His physicality and his rushing ability have helped revolutionise the Quarterback position and he is clearly one of the most influential players on the Carolina roster. But is he the right man at the helm of the team?
Talent-wise, the answer is clearly ‘Yes!’ In a league where some franchises are struggling to find a franchise quarterback, he is clearly above average to put it lightly. But there have been a number of off-field incidents that would make me hesitant to pick him.
Following the Panther’s 27-24 win over the Detroit Lions, Newton got himself in hot water when he laughed at a female reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue, talking about Devin Funchess embracing the physicality of his routes, stating “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes like – it’s funny.” After the media furore he apologised, saying that it was intended to be a compliment.
In one of his latest interviews after their 31-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings, Newton talked about a cross-body throw that resulted in a Funchess touchdown, saying “I did everything I was told not to do. Sometimes you just gotta overcome coaching.” Cross-body throws are incredibly risky and will more often than not lead to an incomplete, if not an interception. Newton has got lucky in this case but has instead suggested that he knows better than the coaches who are paid to improve him.
He has also previously refused to speak to the press after a game because they didn’t want to speak to him before.
While his athleticism and ability are unquestionable, his attitude often comes across as childish and it seems that everything must be about him. When things are going well, they are fantastic, but when things are going bad, they are going terrible and you will struggle to get anything from him. The same could even be said of his play at times, as shown by the Panther’s great run to the Super Bowl only to be beaten by a past-it Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos When I see him looking like a peacock at post-game press conferences, I can’t help but wonder if he spent more time training or picking his outfit during the week. An NFL team contains a 50-man roster and plenty of coaches and assistants to make sure everything runs smoothly, yet I can’t help but feel that for Cam, the Panthers are him.
I am obviously a little biased as a Titans fan, but if I was asked to pick a franchise QB who had been in the league no longer than Cam (thus ruling out the obvious Brady, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Brees and Rivers) I would be much more likely to pick a QB like Marcus Mariota, who is undoubtedly talented himself but also comes across as much more humble and more of a team player.
Do I expect the Panthers to move on from him? No, but if he continues to act like this, they may decide to look for a cheaper option who may be more of a team player and with a lower salary…