SAN JOSE, Calif. – He's large. He's fast. He has a howitzer arm. Cam Newton is unlike any quarterback the Super Bowl has ever seen.
Quite possibly, he's changing how the position itself is played.
That's how Carolina Panthers wide receiver Corey Brown sees it. "Absolutely," he says. Brown views Newton, the likely MVP, as the best of all worlds.
"He’s a pocket passer but he can run — you don’t see that every day," Brown said. "He’s a quarterback the size of a D-lineman with the athleticism of a wideout or a DB. You don’t see that every day. That’s something you go in a lab and put some stuff together — give me Michael Vick’s legs with Tom Brady... That’s something you’d create on Madden. He’s that person. He’s someone nobody has seen.”
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton who has run the 40 in the 4.5's and rams through linebackers now is thwarting defenses as a pure passer. Through Carolina's 17-1 season, Newton has thrown for 4,333 yards, rushed for 686 yards with 40 total touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. And he's doing it with guys named Ginn and Philly and Cotchery and Funchess at wide receiver. He'll now get a chance to win his first Super Bowl in his fifth pro season.
On Monday, Newton brought up the Tennessee Titans' Super Bowl loss to the St. Louis Rams and one of his idols, quarterback Steve McNair, coming up one yard short on a pass to Kevin Dyson.
"Just to play in the Super Bowl, one, and to win a Super Bowl," Newton said. "That was the big dream of mine. ... It just goes to show you that this is a game of inches. He threw the slant at the end and reached out and didn’t get it, one of my all-time favorite Super Bowl moments. Yet that just makes you prepare even more so that you’ll be on the winning side of the pendulum.
"It’s all in preparation. My father always taught me the proper P's of success: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performances. That’s still the words that I live by, especially in big moments.”
One wide receiver he never even had this season was Kelvin Benjamin, lost to a torn ACL in August. As soon as Newton's name comes up at Media Night, Benjamin tilts his head back and shouts "He's ballin'!" before fidgeting around on the turf in excitement.
Like Brown, he brings up Madden unprompted.
“He’s out there playing Madden, man!" Benjamin said. "It’s like Madden. It looks easy out there to him, right? But that’s Cam. We all know that’s Cam. That’s been Cam since Day 1, since he stepped into the league.”
For the record, Brown makes one point very clear: Newton "sucks at video games." The receiver beats him in Madden, 2K, anything and everything. Oh, Newton will talk a mean game and loves to brag that he's one of the best but he's not. Brown says the quarterback talked himself into thinking he's actually good when the only times Brown loses to him is when the receiver is caught "sleepwalking."
Through everything — be it a game, a practice, a video game — Newton's personality never wavers. What you see is what you get. The smile plastered across your television set is real, Brown asserts.
"He doesn’t change for anybody," Brown said. "He’s an energetic guy 24 hours a day/7 days a week. He’s a guy who doesn’t change.”
So Newton will look to dazzle the masses between the whistles and after the whistles come Sunday against Denver. If folks have a problem with it, he really doesn't care. The quarterback is "never relaxed," Brown said, always bringing maximum energy... and still learning.
"It’s scary to see where he’ll be when he’s at his peak," Brown said.
As in there's another level? “He’s not done. He’s not done yet.”
And how is that possible with Newton playing like this?