I have to start with Panthers.com's rebuttal to Adam Shein's critical piece on the Panthers prospects for 2013:
Panthers going somewhere with Rivera, Newton
Here’s another noteworthy portion of Moore’s article: "Newton's statistical accomplishments through the first two seasons of his career will be the most prolific of anything we've seen in the NFL, ever… The writers bending their words to please them should stop and take a look at what's happening on the field. Newton has performed to a level nobody could possibly expect out of a quarterback at his age and development point in his career. To see what Cam Newton has done in his first two seasons and call it anything other than fantastic is lunacy, or worse."
This was easily Max Henson's best work on Panthers.com since they brought him in. He rally hits each point and I have to include this paragraph he gives from the locker room after the week 17 win over the Saints:
Newton suffered rib and ankle injuries. He was examined by doctors and played on. The Panthers won, 44-38. That game meant nothing in terms of postseason qualification. It meant everything to Newton’s teammates and coaches.
Here’s a quote from a vet, left tackle Jordan Gross: "Cam coming back in today was just awesome. It made my day. Cam has just continued to impress me this season with his growth, his leadership, his attitude, his play, his game management."
I’ll also share this: As a writer for Panthers.com, I’m able to enter the locker room with the players and staff immediately after games. After that Week 17 win over New Orleans, head coach Ron Rivera was emotional as he addressed the team. Newton put his arm around his coach and grabbed the attention of the room (pictured above).
"Everybody in this locker room, none of you gave up," Newton said. "Coach, we didn’t give up on you, man." Newton raised his voice. "There are a lot of things that happened in games this season, where we were this close. We could have done just a little bit more. We could have given just a little bit more. You all know it. I know it. Think about that this offseason."
That was the final locker room speech of the season. Newton was the voice of the team. And everybody in that room was listening.
Very good stuff right there. Hopefully it will carry over into the 2013 season.
We may have already covered this piece but its a nice segue from the first link above.
Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera on the Hot Seat Entering the 2013 Season
"This is a performance-based industry, and I understand that," Rivera said Monday, via the Winston-Salem Journal. "I understand that Mr. Richardson has to sell tickets and put people in the stands, and the only real way to do that is to win. . . . Now we have to take the next step, and I understand that. We have to get over the hump, and I get that. But I do appreciate the opportunity I have, and with the development of these players and the improvement we are showing, we are going in the right direction."
I'm sure part of Rivera's confidence comes from knowing Cam Newton is working hard as I write this and is showing the leadership many that he would never possess. Which's brings to a piece detailing what Mr. Newton has been doing with his free time this offseason:
Panthers’ Cam Newton back in school, in Auburn and Charlotte | Carolina Panthers | NewsObserver.com
"Showing my face only two or three times a week for my teammates to see, but at the same time going back to school was important," Newton said. "I was trying to stretch my appearances out to a degree. Being here in Charlotte, then driving back to Auburn, then driving back to Charlotte on multiple weeks was very challenging."
Newton indicated he dropped a few pounds this offseason while working out with a personal trainer in Auburn. As for the Panthers’ offseason program, Newton said he was pleased to see new receivers Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn at the workouts. "Those guys have been making an impact already in OTAs (organized team activities), coming with a mind frame to work," Newton said. "And having the mentality, the outlook we have had with people showing up to OTAs, really meant a lot to this organization and also to the coaches."
Forget vacation and staged media appearances for this rising 3rd year superstar. It's all charity events, working on his degree and joining teammates for private workouts in Charlotte for this hard worker. Regardless the media types will continue to try and prod him into saying something wrong, but he so far does not bite:
"No, by no means," Newton said in an interview from his school-pride event for students in Charlotte when asked whether he feels like a forgotten quarterback after the success of Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. "I'm a fan of those guys. Colin Kaepernick, I got an opportunity to know him well; we were roommates at the combine when we were coming out. RG III, he's won the Heisman. Andrew Luck -- those guys came in this league and took it by storm.
Am I envious? No," Newton said. "If anything it challenges me to get better and just remember about this league that if you're not getting better, you're getting forgotten."
Envy? Ha!! They will be envying him before long! Damn I love Cam...
Though we covered K John Kasay's recent retirement ceremony as he retired a Panther here is a quote from Kasay that I really loved:
John Kasay returns home to retire with Carolina Panthers - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN
''When we came to Charlotte, our oldest son was about 6 weeks old,'' Kasay said in a statement released by the team. ''To be able to watch your family grow, not only in number, but also in stature, it gives us a long-range perspective on as blessed as we were and have been by Mr. Richardson to be able to come live in this community, this city, and really the North Carolina and South Carolina region that has been so good to our family and has given way more to us than we've ever given back.''
Though it will take five years we will see John in bronze outside BoA stadium some day. If they want to capture his essence in the statue it will be Kasay lining up to kick a game-winning FG!
One last bit of NFL news, Minnesota's Governor has now weighed in the Chris Kluwe cut and honestly, he doesn't do Kluwe any favors:
I can't say for sure," Dayton replied. "But if you're going to check and see who's the better kicker under the pressure of an NFL season, seems to me you at least go into the exhibition games and have them both kicking under that kind of pressure. If you're to have true competition, that's how I would think you'd resolve it in a straightforward way. But that's their decision to make. They don't give me political advice. I don't give them coaching advice."
I couldn't agree more with his last statement, which begs the question why he was making a statement on the issue at all.