Jonathan Alexander, Charlotte Observer, tweeted the news that Newton had met with his former team. The report quickly became updated to say that Newton, a 32-year-old quarterback, signed a one year deal with the Panthers. Newton confirmed the news via a video that he produced for his production company.
Let's go back almost two years to when Rudy Gobert & Tom Hanks captured COVID, and then shut down America. The Panthers made one of the most important business decisions they have ever made. We were all sanitizing our hands and washing our hands till the bones were exposed. They released their face for their franchise on March 24, 2020. This was not only their 26-year history, but also their time as a franchise. After a promising start of 6-2, Newton was forced to miss most of 2019 with a bad foot. This happened after the QB suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder in 2016, which led him to finish at 7-9.
Newton had more to say than just expressing gratitude for his opportunity to play for Panthers. He expressed his feelings of betrayal. A week before his release, the team gave permission for him to trade. Newton, using the eccentric font that he loves, made it clear that the team wanted Newton out. He did not want to go. He released his Instagram video "They looked down upon me", and months later, he stated on Odell Beckham Jr.’s podcast that he had noticed that the Panthers were treating him differently since 2019, when he sustained an injury. He reiterated that he didn't want to leave.
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Newton was released by the New England Patriots in 2021. Now, with Panthers starter Sam Darnold on the IR, the team is giving Newton another chance.
It would be a beautiful thing for Newton to come back and for the Panthers make a run. In a season that was littered by crime, workplace investigations and crackpot COVID theories, the NFL could use a positive story. Newton cannot remove all the tarnish (and it is not like he didn’t have his own COVID baggage before finally coming around), but it’s nice to see a quarterback return to the team that he will always be most closely connected to.
Joe Montana, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning -- many quarterbacks aren't eligible for that return unless their opponent is, rather they only get that one-day contract when it comes time to retire. The icon of a franchise is a great quarterback. When the logo of the team appears on the screen, he's the first thing that comes to mind. No matter how successful Brady is in Tampa, the Patriots logo will always conjure up an image of him. The same applies to Newton and the Panthers' logo.
The modern success story of the professional sports team, the Panthers, is perhaps the most remarkable. In their second season, they advanced to the NFC Championship and were just one field goal away winning a Super Bowl. The franchise was still without an identity. Its most prominent player was Steve Smith, a 5-foot-9 receiver.
Newton was the next -- the big smile, speed, agility, cannon, Heisman, Camback, spotty accuracy and off-field controversy. It all came to Charlotte, and the team grew along with him. Newton was the franchise that won the MVP award and made it to the Super Bowl. But Newton was also the franchise that had the worst press conferences and misogynistic comments. He grew up with them. Newton is their Vince Carter except that he now gets to return.
This could be Newton's last stop. It could be a PR stunt by the Panthers who hope to make it into the playoffs with a quarterback who hasn’t looked like a star since 2018. It's not like the Panthers had any better ideas. So, I will take a double burger tray, with a corndog, Cookout fries and a peanut butter and banana fudge. Cam is back in North Carolina.