By all accounts, Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton is having a much better season than anyone really predicted for the No. 1 overall pick. Most thought he wasn’t ready to step right in to a starting gig, and that he’d struggle if he were thrust into action from Day 1. Not quite. Newton is completing 60.6 percent of his passes for 2,393 yards and 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
Newton, however, isn’t particularly ready to bask in the glory that many are handing him. He readily points out that the Panthers’ 2-6 record is nothing to exactly write home about, and Carolina is in last place. That said, he has a pretty comical standard answer for those who wonder if he’s surprised by some of his success.
Cam Newton joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta with 2 Live Stews to discuss if he thought his rookie season would go this well for him from an individual standpoint, how the Panthers’ 2-6 record is what he’s most concerned about, what clicked for him between the preseason and regular season, his offseason preparation given the lockout, what feat he’s most proud of in his football career, and what it was like for him to play in from of family and friends in Atlanta earlier this season.
Did you think that your rookie season could go this well?:
“I always give the same response about, ‘Cam, are you really surprised with your performance?’ Whether it’s a reporter, whether it’s whoever that’s asking me, I’ve asked this question to them: ‘Have you ever put a large body of work into something and expected it just to be OK?’ … So why would I be surprised with my performances right now. If anything, I feel like I’ve failed myself due to this game is about wins and losses. And I’m not hanging my hat on no 2-6 season and we still have an opportunity to change that.”
It seemed like you struggled a bit in the preseason. How did you get things to click once the season started?:
“It just takes time. That’s all I needed. Who am I to say that I have arrived? Because I haven’t. There’s a lot of things that I feel I have to get better. … I think there’s a lot of guys that is around me that have done an excellent job of maturing my whole process and speeding it up. … The thing that I can’t do is get complacent with what I’ve already done.”
What was your offseason preparation like given the lockout?:
“I would say that the offseason is as simple as what the offseason could be for me. That’s just the same thing that’s got me to this point right now, and that’s hard work and dedication. Everywhere I went, [my family] was right there pushing me. … Everybody was there just knowing what I had to do to become great. That’s not just something that happens on Sundays. … To some degree, we’re reaping what we put in.”
You won the Heisman, won a couple of national championships on various levels and were drafted No. 1 overall. What are you most proud of?:
“Just the whole process. As I’m talking each and every day to one of my good friends … it’s just so unreal to some degree. I really haven’t had the opportunity to just soak it all in and take everything in. But, nor am I trying to just sit back and say, ‘Man, look what I did,’ … because I still have things that I want to do.”
What was it like coming back to Atlanta to play the Falcons with family and friends in attendance and doing the Deion Sanders dance in the end zone?:
“Well, I signed under Under Armour, so it was brought up to me that whole entire week that Deion Sanders, which is a part of the UA family, that he’s going to get appreciated during halftime of the game that we played. So what other way to pay homage to a particular person that I grew up idolizing … than do his end zone dance? I knew that I couldn’t do it like him, but I sure did try.”