DAR Sports: NFL Player Profile - Cam Newton

By @TrueGodImmortal 

Super Bowl 50 is about a week and a half away. The Denver Broncos will play the Carolina Panthers, in what could end up as a great matchup with either Peyton Manning winning his elusive second championship or Cam Newton bringing a championship to Carolina. Now, when you think about it, Cam Newton isn't supposed to be here to many. He is a great quarterback and a truly rising star, but many didn't expect him to become the player he is today. Many were counting on him being a bust in the league, but from day one, Cam had other plans. Today, I wanted to look at the Super Bowl bound quarterback and his path and journey to get to where he is today.

The story of Cam Newton the football player, can be traced back to his days at Westlake High School in Atlanta, GA. In his junior year, Cam was at the top of his game, earning him praise and a lot of attention from colleges based on his stats of 2,500 yards passing with 23 touchdowns, and 638 yards rushing with 9 rushing touchdowns. Cam was unstoppable it seemed and that would continue over to his senior year. His senior year proved to be just as pivotal and would put him in the driver's seat for the college of his choice it would seem. Cam would receive a plethora of scholarship offers including offers from Virginia Tech, Maryland, Georgia, and countless others before settling and deciding on Florida as his choice.

Once arriving at Florida, it was apparent Cam wouldn't get the start here or be the driving force of that team apparently, which was truly unfortunate. Cam would still be the back up QB and he would do work as need be, but he was not the leader or anything close to that for the Gators. Tim Tebow was their QB and Cam was merely just a blip on the road to a national championship. In his sophomore season, things took a turn for the worse for Cam as he was sidelined with an injury before something terrible occurred. Cam was arrested for possessing a stolen computer that he attempted to throw out the window to hide from police. Although charges were dropped against Cam, it created a stigma about him that we knew all too well is used to plague successful black athletes. Cam announced his intention to transfer from Florida right before they won the national championship over Oklahoma, and it would end up being a life changing experience for the young QB.

He transferred to Blinn College in Texas and began what many see as his road to redemption. He led Blinn to the NJCAA championship with 2,833 yards passing, 655 yards rushing, and 22 touchdowns, and once again, recruiters had their eye on him. It was time for Cam to come back strong and prove he isn't second fiddle to anyone and that he was the real deal. Bypassing recruitment offers from Oklahoma and Mississippi State, Cam would commit to the Auburn Tigers. This would be a huge move for Cam and seems to be the turning point in his career. Had Cam remained with Florida, had Cam not experienced his setbacks, maybe he would have become lackadaisical and not showcase the hunger to win and the drive to the best.

Once at Auburn, Cam exploded with offense and his run ability and would be named SEC Offensive Player of the Week after his first game with them. The display of skill and raw talent that Cam put on during his Auburn time can not be slept on, and halfway during the season, it was said he was a top contender to win the Heisman trophy. One of his most prized games came against the LSU Tigers, where he rushed for an amazing 217 yards to lead Auburn to a 24-17 victory. Cam finished that season with over 1,000 rushing yards, breaking a 40 year record for the most rushing yards in a season by a quaterback in the SEC. Cam also broke Pat Sullivan's team record for most touchdowns in a single season, a record that had been established since 1971. Auburn received the no. 1 ranking overall in BCS and Cam became the favorite for the Heisman after all this.

Auburn won the BCS National Championship after a victory over Oregon, and though critics said Cam was outshined in this game, he would still go on to win the Heisman, crowning his college career and the full story of redemption. Cam decided he would enter the draft following that great moment, and despite a ton of controversy surrounding him, he was primed to make a big splash in the NFL. A list of his accolades in his year at Auburn:

*Heisman Trophy 
*Maxwell Award 
*Walter Camp Award 
*Davey O'Brien Award
*AP College Player of the Year 
*First Team All-American 
*First Team All-Southeastern Conference 

With his hat put into the ring for the NFL Draft, Cam began workouts and seemed destined to go very high in the draft. Cam would end up as the no. 1 pick in the draft and selected by the Carolina Panthers. With all the fanfare behind him being selected as no. 1, Cam would have his doubters and people saying he would the biggest bust in NFL draft history. Pressure on Cam never seemed to make him falter or stumble, as his rookie season was nothing short of impeccable. Cam's contract was for 4 years, 22 million and fully guaranteed, and he would set the football world on fire. His NFL debut was against the Arizona Cardinals(a bit of poetic justice here.... you'll see why later), and he threw for an amazing 422 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 INT in a 28-21 loss. It must sting for a rookie QB to come out in their first game, electrify the field, put up a 110.4 QB rating and become the first rookie QB to throw for 400 yards in his first career game, but lose.

Cam's rookie season was honestly nothing short of magnificent for personal accomplishments, as he would finish with over 4,000 yards passing and earned a spot in the Pro Bowl. He would be named the Rookie of the Year and he was off to quite a great start, silencing the critics it seemed with his amazing display for his first season. Cam's 2nd season doesn't seem as spectacular by comparison, but he was still efficient and ended up as the top QB in yards per completion and 2nd in yards per attempt. With him defeating the "sophomore jinx", so to speak, the question then became could Cam lead the Panthers to the playoffs and if he had the drive and leadership to make it happen.

The 2013 season would be where he looked right at his usual critics and made them regret their words, as he led the Panthers to a 12-4 record and right into the playoffs. It seemed as if every challenge thrown his way, he could overcome. Unfortunately, Cam would end up losing his first playoff game to the San Francisco 49ers, but just the feat of making it there to the playoffs was special in itself. Still, Cam set out with a new focus to return to the playoffs and hopefully reach the Super Bowl. His speed, his agility, and his toughness was making him one of the best players to watch in the NFL and Cam was becoming a star in his own right. As the 2014 season began, Cam faced a minor setback as he was briefly sidelined with an injury. He would miss the opening game of the season against Tampa Bay, but returned the 2nd week, and he would seem even better than he had ever been. He display his true grit during this season and he would end up leading the Panthers to their second straight NFC South Division title. Following in the footsteps of the greats like Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick, and various others, Cam would continue the trend of amazing black quarterbacks with the ability to run the ball better than some of the RBs. With his talent being recognized and his name in the discussion for being one of the best QBs in the game, Cam prepared another shot at the playoffs.

The Panthers would face the Cardinals in the wild card round, the same team who dealt Cam his first ever loss in his rookie season. Poetic justice was served here as Cam would gain his first playoff victory and advance to the next round. It was here that Cam and the Panthers would face a ruthless Seattle Seahawks team and come up short. The Seahawks would win in the divisional round and advance onto the Super Bowl that year, while Cam went home and focused on making himself even better. For Cam, defeat was just temporary, and he would set himself on a mission to become better than the previous season and claim the throne in NFL. The Panthers organization saw something in him that a lot of critics didn't, and they solidified how much they believed in him when they gave him a 5 year,  103.8 million dollar contract extension before the start of this current season. With a contract that big, expectations would be high. However, Cam has never been worried about expectations or hype. He exceeds them every time.

The 2015 season has been one of magic for Cam and the Panthers. Armed with a rapid fire offense and equipped with a lockdown defense, the Panthers would dominant the NFL this season and finish as the best team in the league with a 15-1 record. Cam would be seen as the front runner for MVP this whole season and in my book, it's no longer a doubt who deserves the MVP award this year. He was the true leader of the Panthers team, showcasing an improved presence in the pocket as well as an enhanced ability for reading defenses. His offense became more explosive and essentially diverse, as his mechanics were advancing along with his mental prowess in the game. This was seen especially during the Panthers vs Giants game, when the Giants would stage a comeback to tie the game 35-35. Cam put on what is seen as his MVP drive, as he led the Panthers down the field for the game winning field goal, and the visual of Cam nodding his head on the sideline before taking the field for that drive is one that will live in sports infamy.

As the Panthers worked their way to another NFC South title quite easily, as well as the no. 1 seed in the entire NFC for the playoffs, they had doubters again and so did Cam. The mainstream media began bashing Cam for dancing after touchdowns and dabbing in his celebrations. Cam is a quarterback making millions, enjoying himself and playing the game of football to the highest level possible. For some reason, him being a successful black quarterback rubbed the white media the wrong way, and since this season started, he's been criticized and ridiculed for everything under the sun, a lot which falls under apparent racism and unnecessary disrespect of a once in a lifetime player. Despite the negativity thrown his way, Cam would still continue on, dabbing his way to the playoffs and set for a showdown against the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round. Cam had been here before. The Seahawks ended his season in this round the previous year. This time Cam would get revenge and advance to the NFC Championship against the Arizona Cardinals. That's right, the team that handed him his first rookie career loss would now be the team standing in his way of a Super Bowl appearance.

There were rumblings that Cam and the Panthers were about to take a vital loss to the Cardinals and that Cam wouldn't be able to lead his team to the Super Bowl and victory. How does Cam respond to that? He and the Panthers ended up defeating the Cardinals in a massive blowout 49-15, and now they have a date with destiny against the Denver Broncos for the Super Bowl. Cam has proven himself to be one of the best QBs if not the best one in the game today and nothing would be sweeter than him winning that MVP award and a Super Bowl to match. Will Cam be able to do it? We'll find that out in a week and some change, but there's no denying that Cam and the Panthers will be heavily favored going into that game. There are many QBs and players that work to be the best, I don't think there has been any since the beginning of the 2010s that is more hungry than Cam Newton. He is a measure for greatness and a model of hard work. Despite any critic or any attempt to tear him down, he's maintained class, poise, and turned the Panthers franchise into one of the most successful in the NFL this decade. He's a star athlete, a professional, and soon he'll be the Most Valuable Player in the NFL. He could also add Super Bowl champion to that list next. Just make sure you dab at that podium, Cam. America needs to see it once more, I believe.



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