It's hard for Cam Newton to remain incognito in Charlotte. He's one of the most recognizable NFL players today and when you pair that with his 6'5, 251 pound frame it's not exactly easy for him to blend in with the crowd. Somehow he managed to do that this week, all in a much smaller market.
Greensboro isn't just where Ricky Proehl has his facility "Proehlific Park," it's also where I call home. So I was a little stunned to hear that Newton and the Panthers' receivers were in town after reading Jonathan Jones' report in the Charlotte Observer.
It marks the second-straight year players have been in the area, all while evading the public. It takes Kaiser Soze-esque skill to hide in plain sight in Greensboro, but doing so is a huge boon. To understand the difficulty in blending in here is a lesson in the town itself. This is a college town, but a commuter college town -- where fun-loving students largely vacate the city on the weekends. There aren't many things that ever bring the city to a standstill, with the exception of the soon-to-be-gone ACC tournament, Windham golf championship and Super Jamz, where Rick Ross has developed a knack for getting arrested.
A few years ago Chris Paul held a charity basketball game in nearby Winston Salem, is was a crush of humanity. The Panthers held a fan rally downtown, it was packed. What I'm trying to say is that "Greensboring" as it's not so affectionately dubbed flocks to anything out of the norm. Newton and 13 players definitely fits the bill.
Here's why that's important. At its most basic level it means the players are working, hard. To avoid the public means to stay away from distractions. I'm not exactly Ferris Bueller, but I'd like to think I have a pretty good grasp on things in town when they happen. To this end, it means the group haven't been going to clubs, or circulating the town's bars. Not that there's anything wrong with either, after all these are adults -- but it's nice to see that work is their sole priority.
The Panthers' success on offense this season is inexorably linked to the receiver's ability to quickly integrate into the offense and it's fantastic to see that the players and Cam are getting off to a quick start before Spartanburg. There aren't many teams that can boast having a successful former NFL receiver as a position coach, paired with a nearby training facility that has somehow remained a secret.
It's things like this that so many miss when critiquing Cam Newton. There's a lot he needs to work on mechanically, but don't pretend he's not a hard worker off it.