Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton gets a lot of heat from opposing fans, NFL analysts and opponents alike for how much he celebrates on the field and especially for they way he handled himself in his press conference following the Super Bowl. As a Panthers fan since 1995, I’ve studied Newton ever since he’s been in the NFL, and while he still has a little maturing to do on the field, his off the field work is overshadowed.
Newton hates losing, but he also loves winning. Oftentimes this is what he gets criticized for, because people believe that professionals should handle every situation exactly the same. When Newton scores a touchdown, people say “act like you’ve been there before.” And when he reacts poorly to losing the Super Bowl it’s “own it, don’t act like a petulant child.”
One thing you have to understand about Newton is that he’s the opposite of the guy you think he is. I’m sure everyone has their own assumptions over a couple of moments from his career, but he also possesses one of the most generous and caring hearts in the NFL. Newton absolutely loves kids, and he repeatedly goes out of his way to make them happy.
A few years ago, Newton started giving away footballs to little kids every time the Panthers scored a touchdown. Every year, he hosts nearly 1,000 underprivileged children for Thanksgiving dinner. Newton volunteers at elementary schools, will have his own Nickelodeon show that will debut this fall and helped launch an annual kickball game every year for the Cam Newton Foundation which was founded to work with kids in tough situations.
These are just a few examples of the type of impact Newton has off the field, and it often gets overlooked because of how much he loves winning and hates losing on it.
The most recent example of Newton’s love for kids came last week when he teamed with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to fulfill a wish made by 11-year-old Noah who was born with Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome, a rare disorder that affects the development of blood vessels, soft tissues and bones. Noah’s only wish was to meet Newton, and the Panthers quarterback obviously had no problem fulfilling that request.
So the next time you want to call Newton cocky or unprofessional, I hope you’ll remember that he’s truly just a big kid at heart.