September 11, 2001 was a day that changed the world. I’m not a cultural anthropologist, but it doesn’t take an expert to understand the truth of that statement. After that day, nothing was the same, ever again. How we view airplanes, terrorism, our country, firefighters, evil. It took awhile--several days and weeks--to process what had happened. Political and religious leaders all struggled to put it in perspective. But all of us knew, it all changed that day. Everything changed. Forever.
On an infinitely less significant scale, in the world of the National Football League, more specifically our Carolina Panthers, September 11, 2011 was also a day that changed the world, our world. Did you see it? Did you witness what I did? Have you been able to process it yet? I mean, the significance of that game, in terms of what it actually means for the future of our franchise?
Allow me to try.
1. The Panthers have found their quarterback, and his name is Cameron Jerrell Newton. It is very possible he will be the face of our franchise for the next 15 years.
2. 400 yard passing games don’t always impress us. Many times they are only a byproduct of one team being woefully behind in the game, and throwing dozens of meaningless passes against loose prevent defenses. Meaningless yards in meaningless games. Cam’s 422 yards on Sunday were not like that. Not even close. He made all the throws. Time, and time, and time again. From the 77 yard go route to Smitty, to the sideline patterns to our tight ends, to the skillful dump offs to our backs. He made them all, against a relentless blitzing Cardinals defense. With poise, confidence, and accuracy. In a very tight game. The defense took away the running game, and so Cam took what they gave us, time and time again. In such a way that the whole world noticed.
A superstar was born. Not because of gaudy stats, or ESPN highlights, or the opines of national sportswriters. But because of what we saw. And what it means for the future, if not the present, of our beloved Carolina Panthers. Because of this, we as Panther fans can now dare to dream, with more confidence than ever before. What do I mean?
3. No game on our schedule is now an automatic loss. This Sunday, against the defending Super Bowl champion Packers, we have a chance to win the game. A week ago I would have predicted a 31-13 loss. Now, I have hope. I have hope that we can, possibly, win on a weekly basis. Because of Cam.
4. We can also dare to dream big in terms of our future. We might not make the playoffs this year, but we can expect to in the next year or two. Furthermore, I believe we can expect to win a Super Bowl, or two, in the next 5-10 years. It will take a good defense, good coaching, and a solid running game. But we now have the quarterback to not only get us there, but to win. Today’s NFL requires a top notch quarterback to win the Big Game. We now have that guy. We can win at least one Super Bowl in this decade. I believe it. Because of Cam.
I’m not saying we will win every game this year, I don’t even know how many games we will win. Maybe 5, or 7, or 9. I’m also not saying Cam won’t have any bad games. He probably will. It’s hard to say.
You can disagree if you wish. You can say it was only one game. An anomaly. Beginner's luck. But I know what I saw. It wasn't luck. It was the debut of an NFL superstar.
I’ve seen it. I am a witness. I watched Cam Newton’s NFL debut on Sunday, September 11, 2011, and I’m telling you:
Everything has changed.
I believe, for the next 15 years, the Carolina Panthers will not only be relevant, and not only become contenders, but we will become an elite team in this league. And soon,
We will become Champions.
Because of Cam.