After a tumultuous 2012 season, Cam Newton is saying and doing all the right things. Newton reported to OTA’s 12 pounds lighter and seems focused and ready to lead the Carolina Panthers on and off the field.
“I have looked at it this year — my approach to the game and postgame interviews, and I feel I can get better at it. At the same time, I’m not going to change my competitive nature. I do not like losing — I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. But it’s the way you go about it, and I understand that.”
I discussed Newton’s maturity issues before, Newton is a supremely gifted athlete, but with those gifts comes a responsibility that he may or may not be ready to handle. Newton experienced two of the greatest seasons in football history. He won the Heisman trophy and a national championship at Auburn, was drafted number one overall in the NFL Draft and won the Rookie of the Year award.
Newton’s highly celebrated rookie season sent his career into the stratosphere, but expectations rose and Newton crashed down to earth as the Panthers started last year with a 1-6 record. Newton crumbled under the pressure, in the process displaying his lack of maturity. Sports fans and writers alike seem to forget that people don’t stay where we left them. While we wrote Newton off as a typical spoiled athlete, he turned his season around, helping the Panthers finish with a 7-9 record.
This week Newton showed another sign of maturation when he expressed a desire to be named team captain.
“I recognize – and everyone knows around the league – when you’re a team captain that’s not just a patch on the jersey. You’re holding yourself to a higher standard with being accountable,” Newton said. “I’m going about it each and every day and trying to make that happen.”
The most successful people in life are people who are able to reflect on their actions and change them. Newton realizes that his behavior last year was unacceptable and not only does he want to change it, he wants become the leader of the team.
I don’t think Newton is ready to become captain. He’s saying all the right things but he didn’t magically change overnight. There will be setbacks this year; however maturity is a process and during the process people have to entrust you with responsibility in order for you to grow. The Panthers would help their franchise by showing Newton that they believe in him, sometimes that’s all it takes.
Whether he’s named captain or not, the Panthers will sink or swim on the fortunes of their franchise quarterback. Why not got all in?