Panthers quarterback Cam Newton walked into an interview room Friday, and after hobbling through training camp last year, that was an achievement in itself.
Because even though his year began with ankle surgery and nearly ended with a car accident which left him with two broken bones in his back, Newton led his team to a second straight division title and playoff appearance, and then a new $100 million contract.
So why not smile?
“I had a person ask me if this was the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. I don’t want to say that, but this is probably the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Newton said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “That’s saying a lot. Waking up and being able to run and not limp, and an obvious limp, too.”
In addition to the contract, Newton’s offseason has been a busy one, from a trip to Australia (where he played some of the local football) to running around in a flag football tournament. And while there was some criticism of him taking what could be perceived as chances, Newton shrugged it off.
“Walking down the street you could get hit by a car, you know what I’m saying?” he said. “‘Cam playing flag football. Oh my God, he can do something!’ ‘Oh my, look at him pulverize people! Cam’s driving fast, slow down! He’s driving again!’ You know it’s always something, but that’s just the life we live. . . .
“I’m the type of person, especially with the things I went through the past few years, that I make the most and appreciate the many blessings that I have on any day. Because, like my father always told me, ‘One day you can be on top of the world, and the next, the world can be on top of you.’”
So far, nothing has fallen on top of Newton, which already puts him ahead of last year’s pace.