As I was sitting and watching the Sugar Bowl Monday night, I felt a slight case of deja vu. It was just about a year ago to this day that Luck and his Stanford Cardinals went out and obliterated the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Orange Bowl, winning 40-12. Luck had an unbelievable season and everything about him screamed franchise quarterback and No. 1 pick for the Panthers. Needless to say, I was drooling over the thought of Luck in the silver, black and blue.
But that didn’t happen. The worse news you could hear as a Panthers fan broke January 6th, 2011, Luck was staying in school for another season. I was crushed when I heard the news, heartbroken, devastated whatever you want to call it. All of my hopes of Luck throwing deep bombs to Steve Smith were blown up. Instead I reverted back to believing I was going to have to watch another season of Jimmy Clausen, something I wish onto no football team or fan, it’s brutal.
But something strange happened as the draft drew closer. With Luck out of the picture another quarterback started to get a ton of press and become at least in my opinion the clear cut favorite.
This quarterback had just won a National Championship, hadn’t lost a game in over two seasons and was physically a freak of nature. This quarterback had his doubters, people saying he didn’t have the accuracy to play at the next level or didn’t have the intangibles or the intelligence to play in a pro-style offense. However, six wins in his first season, 4,051 passing yards and 35 combined touchdowns later, this quarterback took the NFL by storm, is going to be the offensive rookie of the year and is the most beloved athlete in the Carolinas. This athlete is Cam Newton.
So about 365 days later, I was once again I was sitting on my couch watching Andrew Luck play in his second straight BCS Bowl game, one he lost in overtime to Oklahoma State, I wasn’t thinking what could be like last year; I was thinking what wouldn’t have been and that is a scary thought.
There were no hard feelings towards Luck and his decision to stay in school, something I never thought would happen if you asked me in the spring of last year. Instead there was a feeling of thankfulness, almost gratitude that Luck for whatever reason decided to stay in school and give the Carolina Panthers Mr. Newton.
Who knows how the Panthers would have fared this season with Andrew Luck at the helm. I am sure they would have won a few games but would Luck have been able to give this franchise the kind of hope that Newton has almost instantly done?
Would Luck have been able to single handily revitalize Steve Smith’s career? Would Luck have broken the all-time rushing touchdown record for quarterbacks or broke Peyton Manning’s rookie record for passing yards in a season?
Who knows, but I am going to say with pretty much 100% certainty that he wouldn’t have done all of these things. Sure Luck may become a great quarterback in the NFL and the “next Peyton Manning” as he has been crowned but Newton is already there. There are zero doubts about how Newton will fair in the NFL, he’s already showed what he is capable of and I am ecstatic to be in the position the Panthers are with Newton.
So on behalf of myself and what I believe to be the opinion of most of Panther Nation, let me be the first to thank you Andrew.
Thank you very much for going back to school, not wanting to play for the Carolina Panthers and for giving us Cam Newton.
Good luck living up to those expectations in Indy.