In what was easily one of the worst weeks of his young career, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton responded to the adversity like a true professional should. Even though Newton’s Panthers lost a heartbreaker yesterday on the road to the Atlanta Falcons, 30-28, his teammates and coaches learned a lot about what kind of player Newton is.
Newton’s 119.3 quarterback rating and two passing touchdowns from Sunday’s loss are just numbers to the Panthers.
It was how Newton took the field and how he performed, that told the story of how good of a player he can become and what kind of teammate he already is.
Following week three’s emotional let down to the New York Giants on national television, all of the negative press was directed right at Newton.
First, he had to endure being called out by veteran receiver Steve Smith on the sideline for sulking, which was followed up by questions surrounding his lack of maturity and leadership skills.
Second came a report from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen saying that Newton was seeking guidance from a “mind coach” to help him become a better teammate, a report Newton would have to refute early in week four.
Finally, after all the drama, came a cartoon ridiculing Newton’s Superman touchdown celebration in last Wednesday’s Charlotte Observer. Its not every week that a star quarterback in only his second year in the NFL receives such demeaning criticism from a newspaper from the city he plays in, but then again, that was the kind of week Newton was having.
Most young quarterbacks would fold, and some have before, but Newton proved to be a different kind of young quarterback in week four.
He proved that he is here to stay. He proved he will be a force opposing defenses will have to reckon with. The most important attribute he proved from week four’s performance was that he can put the past behind him and play at a high level.
Attitude is everything in the NFL. A player can’t get too low or too high when things go bad or good.
Newton never got too low and now the Panthers know they have a quarterback they can count on going forward.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers columnist. Please follow @robertkester1.