Column: Let Cam Newton be great

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) laughs on the sideline in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter in the Panthers' 27-10 win over the Tennessee Titans in an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (Mark Zaleski/AP)

When is the sports world going to stop nitpicking everything Cam Newton does?

The Carolina Panthers quarterback has his team on top of the NFC South division after a perfect 9-0 start, yet many people are finding something new to complain about every week.

After Week 8, people were upset that Newton pulled down a Green Bay Packers sign that was displayed in Carolina’s stadium. Newton decided to take it upon himself to confiscate the sign before the game started, a total power move. Of course, Newton taking an opposing fan’s sign is merely impolite at best, people had to find something to complain about by creating a fake controversy that he had to answer for after the game.

Then in Week 9, the funniest end zone moment of the year happened. After scoring a touchdown on a goal line rush, Newton proceeded to walk into the back of the end zone and unleash a touchdown dance. Newton’s dance was interrupted however by a few, overly sensitive, members of the Tennessee Titans. Their intentions appeared to be to break up Newton’s dance. However, in hilarious fashion, Newton did not allow these upset Titans to rain on his parade as he dished out a couple more dance moves in their faces.

While this moment was comedic to many, myself included, it really illustrated how people so hypocritically view Newton. He is not the first player, and he certainly will not be the last player, to unleash an elaborate touchdown celebration following a score. Yet his outward displays of emotion and happiness after positive plays just seem to rub so many the wrong way.

Not only are his celebrations criticized, it is hard to imagine a more unfairly scrutinized quarterback in the NFL than Newton since he entered the league.

It all started in his rookie season. Newton was drafted No. 1 overall by the Panthers after winning the national championship and Heisman Trophy while at Auburn.

In Newton’s rookie season he lit up the stat sheet, throwing for 4,051 yards and 21 touchdowns while also running for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns. These numbers were unheard of for a rookie quarterback. But since the Panthers had a 6-10 record, the knock was that they did not matter as much because it was for a losing team.

Flash forward to 2015 and the Panthers are now sitting at 9-0. However, Newton’s numbers are down this year, most noticeably his completion percentage is just 56 percent. Newton is now being held to a different standard because he is winning without the eye-popping numbers.

We cannot ignore the fact that in 2015, Newton’s best option to throw the ball to is tight end Greg Olsen. Now, Olsen is a more than solid tight end that is capable of putting up good numbers year in and year out. However, after Olsen, their receiving options drop off considerably. Their number one receiver is Tedd Ginn Jr. and after that it is Corey Brown and Devin Funchess. The fact that this receiving core is undefeated this late in a season is a testament to Newton’s ability.

While judging quarterbacks based off wins is certainly not specific to just Newton, I do think we need to change the way that we view quarterbacks as a whole. We cannot pick and choose when we are going to value statistics instead of wins and vice versa.

Newton, listed at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, is a quarterback unlike any other in today’s NFL and we should spend more time enjoying his talent rather than finding ways to minimize his accomplishments.


Spencer Mayfield is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at spencer.mayfield@uconn.edu. He tweets @SpenceMayfield.