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Thank you Cam Newton, for everything

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After nine years of winning football and thrilling us as fans, it’s only appropriate to express appreciation for No. 1.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

After nine seasons the Carolina Panthers have decided to move on from Cam Newton. As a fan I really don’t have a choice but to move on, too. The team cut him. Superman ain’t dancing through that tunnel again. But before I close this near decade-long chapter in my football life I felt the need to say “thank you” to Cameron Jerrell Newton.

Thank you, Cam, for reassuring a skeptic

I’ll admit, I was skeptical of Cam Newton before the 2011 draft. I don’t really follow college football and I never “break down tape” on prospects. All I knew about Cam is he was a one-year wonder at the Division I level and had won both the Heisman and the national title, but there were other well documented off-the-field issues that raised red flags about his judgment and character. I thought Cam could be a cross between Peyton Manning and Michael Vick, or the love child of JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf. Of course I wanted Cam to succeed but I wouldn’t have been surprised if he failed. Needless to say, Newton won me over almost immediately with his amazing on-field play and being a model citizen off the field.

Thank you, Cam, for bringing back hope

The Panthers 2-14 2010 season was absolutely miserable for us as fans. Jimmy Clausen. Matt Moore. Brian St. Pierre. Tony Pike. The Panthers as a franchise would’ve been set back for years if Cam was a bust. But in Cam’s first game his 422 passing yards set an NFL rookie record. He set a new rookie record in his next game with 432 yards. Throughout 2010 he set a number of other records and was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Fan bases with a franchise quarterback have hope. In 2011 Cam brought back hope to the Carolinas.

Thank you, Cam, for 2015

Very few fans experience the prolonged joy we as Panthers fans knew in 2015. Cam led the NFL’s highest scoring offense and racked up win after win after win. The team started 14-0 and gave us more than three straight months of perfect football. After finishing the season 15-1 Cam led the Panthers to the Super Bowl, an experience some fan bases have never had. Yes, the Super Bowl loss is still a lingering disappointment, but 2015 was an incredible run. It was capped off with Cam being named NFL MVP and being selected by his fellow players as the best player in the league.

Thank you, Cam, for being a gamer

If Cam Newton was healthy enough to play, he was going to play. Period. Between 2011 and 2018 he suffered a plethora of injuries and somehow missed only five games over that eight year span. Cam also put his body on the line with his physical style of play. Per CBS Sports, he absorbed 922 hits between 2011 and 2017, the most by any quarterback by a mile. Russell Wilson was second with just 615. Cam Newton was willing to fight for every yard as a runner and buy time as a passer while his receivers got open, both of which resulted in Superman sacrificing his health for wins. Cam Newton put team before self.

Thank you, Cam, for your charity

Cam Newton will leave a legacy of charity and giving across the Carolinas. His Cam Newton Foundation focuses on mentoring youth, community outreach, and education. Per, Cam’s foundation has provided more than $5.1 million in grants, reached over 12,500 student-athletes and coaches, and provided nearly 12,000 need-based youth with meals and gifts. There was Santa Cam’s Surprise Sleigh. There was Cam’s annual Thanksgiving Jam. There were scores of post-touchdown footballs given to delighted children in the stands. And please just watch this hospital visit and try not to get emotional. Cam Newton used his resources and his stature to bless many lives. He was more than just a football player to his local community.

Thank you, Cam, for the wins

While football is a team sport, quarterbacks have the most influence on whether a team wins or loses any given game. Over the five years between 2013 and 2017 Cam Newton’s 49 “quarterback wins” ranked fourth in the NFL, trailing only Tom Brady (60), Russell Wilson (54), and Alex Smith (50). With a “healthy Cam” taking the field we as Carolina Panthers fans knew our team had a legitimate shot at winning every game he played in.

Thank you, Cam, for the records

The list of Cam’s NFL records is too extensive to list (what a great problem to have!), so please just visit his Wikipedia page for a comprehensive rundown. As Panthers fans we we didn’t just have a really good dual-threat quarterback, we had the joy for nine years of watching the best dual-threat quarterback in NFL history.

Thank you, Cam, for the highlights

As with Cam’s records, there are too many jaw-dropping highlights to mention individually. Here’s a quick top 10 list that gets the point across. The escaping. The runs. The rocket arm. The front flips. As Panthers fans we will probably never have a more dynamic, electric quarterback leading our team. Every time the pocket broke down and Cam looked to scramble we all held our breath and knew something incredible could happen. I’m going to miss that.

I’m genuinely sad Cam Newton won’t be back in a Carolina Panthers uniform next year. I understand the health risks and the salary cap. I understand new regimes and rebuilds. I just don’t understand what the Panthers are going to be like without Superman under center. For nearly a decade Cam Newton has been a central part of the enjoyment I’ve experienced in being a Panthers fan. I appreciate him for that. I respect him for that.

Thank you, Cam.