Somehow, Cam Newton was forgotten. Following last season, the conversation has focused heavily on Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick, yet the 6’5″ 245lb. former Heisman Trophy winner has been the NFL’s forgotten man among the incredible crop of talented young quarterbacks.
Fresh off one of the most dominant and controversial seasons in college football history, Newton burst onto the NFL scene with an incredible inaugural performance, throwing for 4,051 yards and rushing for 706 while being named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie campaign.
Despite the strong performance, Newton and his Panthers failed to live up to expectations early last season en route to a 1-6 start. By the time the signal caller and his team improved their play, attention had already shifted to other young performers. Despite reviving his team to finish 7-9 while passing for 3,869 yards and gaining 741 yards on the ground, Newton became the invisible man.
However, contrary to what many might think, reports indicate that the fall from grace has only given Newton focus. “I think he’s a lot more comfortable in his own skin,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.
The more comfortable former #1 pick has also spent significant time pondering how to improve his personal reputation, which suffers from his controversial time at Florida and Auburn, his comments before entering the league saying he wanted to be an “icon and entertainer,” and a posture towards people that has often been aloof and seemingly arrogant.
“I did a lot of reflecting this offseason,” Newton said. “I wanted tolook at a lot of things. How was I with my teammates? How was I with themedia? I know you have a job to do like I have a job to do. It was atime to look and see what I could do better. People have to realize thatI am a person too. I play football, so, yes, that makes me different,but I am just like everyone else in a lot of ways. People see things andthey misunderstand me a lot of times.”
The incredibly talented quarterback could revive his reputation with the more reflective demeanor and with a season that lives up to the expectations he created for himself after such an incredible rookie campaign.
Carolina is poised for rapid improvement this season, and Newton will be at the heart of any playoff run the Panthers are able to make. Following the forgotten Newton and his attempts for resurgence could be one of the more fascinating story-lines of the NFL season.