Super Bowl 50, the pinnacle of football success will have a special meaning this year. Starting at quarterback for the favored Carolina Panthers, will be none other than Auburn’s own Cameron Jerrell Newton.
Most of us remember Newton, who led the Auburn Tigers to the BCS National Championship in 2011. Probably the most iconic figure in Auburn sports (sorry Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley), Newton did what no other college football player has ever done. Newton is the only player, within a one-year span, to be awarded the Heisman Trophy (by a landslide), win a national college championship and become the first overall pick in the NFL draft. Of course, that first overall pick status garnered him a huge payday as well- $22 million over four years to be exact, which was one of the largest payouts to a rookie, ever.
But his Auburn days pale to what this precocious kid from the outskirts of Atlanta has accomplished in the NFL. A quarterback freak of nature, standing 6’5” and weighing a lineman like weight of 250 lbs., Newton is the epitomy of a dual threat quarterback.
Unlike other dual threats who have come in the league and are able to run well until they get hurt, Newton because of his size doesn’t get hurt, and secondly he throws the ball with so much velocity and accuracy, he is rated one of the top passing quarterbacks to ever play the game. Dual threat QB’s usually have trouble throwing the ball- but that certainly is not a problem for Newton.
In his rookie season he was named Rookie of the Year throwing for an unheard of 4051 yards, and rushing for another 706. Even more amazing he threw for 21 touchdowns and ran for another 14. Newton was deemed virtually unstoppable.
As time went on he only got better. Fast forward to 2015. That $22 million contract changed to $104 million over 5 years. His statistics however, haven’t changed much. He threw for 3827 years and ran for another 636. He led the Panthers to a 15-1 regular season record and was named the NFL’s most valuable player.
Now Newton will play on his biggest stage- the Super Bowl in front of a huge world-wide audience. How do you think this kid who cut his teeth in our backyard will do? If history is an indicator, and I am a firm believer it is, this wunderkind will have an outstanding game and he will lead his Panthers to victory, despite the sentimental choice being the Denver Broncos and the ageless Peyton Manning.
He will make us, in the hinterlands of Eastern Alabama, all very proud. Auburn’s very own Cam Newton will add more hardware to his already ever accumulating mantle and we that followed him here, will be able to say we knew that guy, although vicariously. He will make us proud- proud to be an Auburn Tiger fan, and proud that he won a championship for us here, and now in the NFL.