Before Lamar Jackson was terrorizing defenses with his arm and legs, Cam Newton was doing the same for the Carolina Panthers. It has been quite the roller-coaster ride for Newton since he became the quarterback in Carolina.
Newton’s NFL career began with him being selected with the No. 1 overall pick out of Auburn in the 2011 NFL Draft. Along with drafting Newton, the Panthers also hired Ron Rivera to become the team’s new head coach.
From the moment they met, Rivera and Newton immediately built an irreplaceable relationship. In his rookie campaign, Newton flashed his dual-threat ability as he threw for 4,051 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions.
The larger-than-life quarterback also gashed opposing defenses for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns en route to securing the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. With how he began his career, Newton’s potential was through the roof.
The following season, Newton put together another productive showing for the Panthers. At 23-years-old, Newton had his second straight season of tallying 4,500 total yards and 25 total touchdowns.
While his individual numbers were remarkable, Carolina had failed to make the playoffs in his first two years. Then, in his third season under center, he led the Panthers to their first playoff appearance since 2008.
As his play on the field improved, his involvement off of the field began to take center stage. Back in 2012, Newton created an annual event called the “Thanksgiving Jam” that provided food for underprivileged families. The Panthers’ quarterback held the event for the eighth-straight year this past November.
His Thanksgiving event along with his other charity work made him a beloved member of the community in Charlotte, North Carolina. Newton was becoming an athlete who saw football as more than just an opportunity to play the game he loves.
Just two years after his first playoff berth, Newton reached his peak in 2015. The dynamic quarterback aired it out for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns, and only 10 interceptions. In addition, he rushed for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
After winning the Heisman Trophy at Auburn, Newton was able to take home the NFL’s MVP Award in 2015. Above all, Newton was the driving force for the Panthers as they went 15-1 and advanced to the Super Bowl.
Ahead of the Super Bowl, many were expecting the Panthers to continue rolling against the Denver Broncos. Instead, the Broncos seized control from the moment the game began.
Newton was under duress throughout the entire game with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware combining for 4.5 sacks. Altogether, Denver sacked Newton six times as they stifled Carolina’s offense to only 10 points.
Since that devastating loss to the Broncos in the Super Bowl, Newton hasn’t been the same quarterback he once was. Injuries and other issues began to pile up for the once-dominant signal-caller.
A year after the Super Bowl loss, Newton was playing through a torn rotator cuff and was forced to undergo surgery after the 2016 season concluded. Following the surgery, it appeared that Carolina’s longtime quarterback was going to be fine moving forward.
The quarterback responded in 2017 by completing 22 passing touchdowns and rushing for a career-high 754 yards. In 2018, Newton got off to a hot start, completing 67.3 percent of his passes for 1,893 yards, 15 touchdowns, and only four interceptions in the first eight games.
Unfortunately, in Week 10 of the 2018 season, Newton would have his season ruined by another shoulder injury. With the team being 6-2 and positioned to compete in the NFC South, Newton took a huge hit from T.J. Watt.
Despite the injury, Newton continued to give his all for the Panthers for as long as he could. After watching his play diminish due to the injury, Carolina shut him down after a Week 15 bout with the New Orleans Saints.
Following the 2018 season, Newton had to rework his throwing motion as he rehabbed from injury. Everyone in Carolina was anxious to see the exhilarating quarterback take the field again in 2019.
In the Panthers’ preseason debut, Newton sustained an injury to his foot that sidelined him for nearly a month. The injury was serious enough for the Panthers to place him on injured reserve.
With his recent injuries and Rivera no longer being the head coach, Newton’s future with the Panthers is in doubt. Newton gave everything he could for Carolina for nine seasons and his time with the Panthers could be coming to an abrupt end.
Regardless of where Newton plays in 2020, he can write the next chapter in his story. Barring another injury, Newton can still have a happy ending to his remarkable career.