The 2014 season was one of the most challenging Cam faced as a professional football player and human being. In March, as Cam underwent ankle surgery, his four-month recovery period caused him to miss training camp and the first preseason game. When Cam played in the third preseason game, after a hit, he suffered a hairline fracture on his ribs. His injury didn’t allow him to play in the 2014 regular season opener against Tampa Bay, ending his streak of starting 48 consecutive games.
On Dec. 9, 2014, Cam was involved in a serious car crash in Charlotte. He suffered two fractures in his back, which prevented him from playing during the week 15 game. When Cam healed, he led the Panthers to their first playoff in nine years with a 27-16 win in the Wild Card round versus the Arizona Cardinals. But in the Divisional playoff round, versus the Seattle Seahawks, the Panthers fell short, losing 31-17.
Cam is motivated by adversity, as well as by his Christian faith. “Life is a series of chapters and seasons. I thank the Lord every day for allowing me to grow and for giving me a range of emotions to mentally become tougher,” Cam says. “I reflect on those times now and pull strength from that journey.”
On June 2, 2015, the Carolina Panthers and Cam agreed to a five-year, $103.8 million contract extension. During Cam’s 2015 season, experts noted Cam’s improving internal clock in the pocket, ability to read defenses, improved pocket patience and mechanics, and his development into a refined pocket passer with the athleticism to diversify any offense with a multidimensional run game.
Cam became the only quarterback in NFL history with more than 100 passing touchdowns and more than 25 rushing touchdowns in his first five seasons of play. He finished the 2015 season with 296 passes for 3,837 yards and had 35 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. The Panthers notched a 15-1 record and earned the top seed in the NFC playoffs.
The Panthers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 31-24 in the Divisional Round and overcame the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC Championship game. In the NFC Championship game, Cam completed 19 of 28 passes for 335 yards, had two touchdowns and 1 interception, and rushed 10 times for 47 yards and recorded two touchdowns. On Feb. 6, 2016, Cam was named NFL MVP.
On Feb. 7, 2016, he played against the Denver Broncos in his first Super Bowl. Both offenses struggled, and ultimately the Broncos won 24-10. While Cam was grateful to play in Super Bowl 50, as a focused pro who was hired to win and aims always for victory, he was less than thrilled with the Panthers falling short.
“Who likes to lose? I’m here to win football games for this organization, for my teammates and my fans,” he says. “They know it’s real. I leave everything else on the field. I prepare the right way. I have a mentality, I have a standard that I set for myself.”
Even in defeat, Cam’s distinctiveness stands out. He was ranked by his peers as the top player in the NFL on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016. He sold the seventh most merchandise from March 2015 to February 2016.
In a bittersweet 2016 season, he surpassed two NFL records but also suffered a concussion. By the season’s end, he completed only 52.9 percent of his passes, threw only 19 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. The Panthers earned a 6-10 record, but Cam was still ranked 44th by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.
On March 30, 2017, Cam had surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff on his throwing shoulder. In spite of any challenges Cam faced throughout the sea- son, playing and starting 16 games, he finished the regular season with 3,302 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a career-high 754 rushing yards. The Panthers made the playoffs as the number five-seed. Although the Panthers lost 31-26 to the New Orleans Saints, Cam was 24 of 40 for 349 yards and scored two touchdowns.
He started out the 2018 season red hot, but the Panthers struggled in November. Cam acknowledged that a nagging shoulder injury had hampered his play during the Panthers’ losing streak. To allow him to heal, the team had to deactivate him for the final two games of the season. In January, Cam underwent right shoulder surgery and expects to be ready to play in the 2019 season.
ALWAYS NO. 1
Like his jersey number, Cam has been No. 1 in many areas in his career. He ranks first in team history with an average of 5.51 yards per rushing attempt. Cam became the first player in NFL history to have 10,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards in his first four seasons. He became the first player in NFL history to have at least 3,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards in four consecutive seasons.
In science, a Cam is a unit of force. In football and in life, Cam Newton is a force to reckoned with. In addition to his football accomplishments, he also puts a great deal of energy into philanthropic efforts. Established in 2012 with the theme, “Every 1 Matters,” the Cam Newton Foundation in Charlotte seeks to enhance the lives of young people by addressing their socioeconomic, educational, physical and emotional needs. (Learn more in “Giving Back,” page 4.) Emphasizing the need for community programs, education and physical fitness, the foundation lives by the credo, “Every 1 Gives, Every 1 Learns, and Every 1 Plays.”
“Often, stories of how we’re making a difference don’t make headlines, but my team and I know,” Cam says. “Seeing a smile on a child’s face brightens my heart. It’s the child who doesn’t believe he can do it but, through the work of the foundation, begins to believe in himself. The foundation is making a difference in the lives of children.