By Charles Glover, Jr.
Super Bowl 50 is days away and as the Carolina Panthers prepare to face the Denver Broncos, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been the centerpiece of media sessions. Newton has had to answer copious questions about being an African-American quarterback, his on-field celebrations and his personality, among other things. Newton’s responses are now being commonly accepted and it seems he is as well, a huge change from how he was covered earlier in his career.
In the first two seasons of Newton’s career with the Panthers, there was a lot of losing and blame to go around for those losses. The former Number one overall draft pick and Heisman Trophy winner found out the hard way that every aspect of his game would be scrutinized as the team struggled. Newton was even called by former teammate Steve Smith, Sr. and current head coach Ron Rivera, “Mr. Mopeyhead” for the way he apparently sulked when the team struggled. Reflecting on that difficult period, leading into his third season, Newton said:
“It was very disgusting. That’s as blunt as I can be. I could say other words as well. We went back on YouTube and looked at Cam Newton’s post game interviews. I was like “oh my God,” I see what people see. I see how people are viewing me. When they see this selfish player, or see this childish temper tantrum that I was throwing, I’m like “that’s why people look at me like that”
Newton’s third season was in 2013, a year in which the Panthers won their division with a 12-4 record and earned a first round bye. Though they lost in the second round of the playoffs to the San Francisco 49ers, the team has grown together and has not missed the playoffs since that season.
While Newton has been clear in recognizing the need to mature on and off the field, it is clear that he has the support of his team and in particular his head coach Ron Rivera. Rivera has been the Newton’s head coach since he entered the NFL. Rivera’s past experience as a player for the Super Bowl winning ’85 Chicago Bears has helped shape his view of how to govern his team. Rivera has admitted that he embraces players individuality as long as they work together as a team on the field.
The Broncos and their top rated defense hope their quarterback Peyton Manning has one more vintage performance left in him to help pull off the upset over Newton and the Panthers. Manning, for his part acknowledged how much he has had to change this season stating, “I haven’t been stubborn. I have been flexible.”
Newton has been given the opportunity to have his personality and style of play embraced by his organization over the last few seasons and the results have been resounding. The Panthers enter Super Bowl 50 with a 17-1 record and the overwhelming favorites to win it all. With this being the fourth straight Super Bowl with an African-American starting quarterback, maybe there is growing acceptance for different ways to win at the quarterback position.–OnPointPress.net–
Charles Glover, Jr., is a senior writer at OnPointPress.net and a Licensed Insurance Professional working with HealthMarkets. Contact me directly at (470)755-9940 for your health insurance questions and concerns.