Carolina Panthers: ESPN name Cam Newton player of the decade

Cam Newton was named player of the decade for the Carolina Panthers in a recent feature on ESPN.

Cam Newton might feel somewhat slighted by a recent social media post by the Carolina Panthers. But he received glowing recognition from ESPN in a recent article.

The quarterback still finds himself without a team after he was released by the Carolina Panthers in messy circumstances this offseason. The timing of the release was met with widespread derision. And it left the 2015 NFL MVP with few realistic starting opportunities elsewhere.

There was a further disappointment from large sections of the Panthers’ fanbase when they left Newton off a post of the greatest ever Carolina players in history. Julius Peppers, Luke Kuechly, and Steve Smith were the three chosen. And although they are all richly deserving in their own way. It was another dig at their ex-franchise signal-caller.

If Newton was looking for a confidence boost heading into a critical period of the player’s career. Then he got it in no uncertain terms in an ESPN feature picking the NFC South’s all-decade team and its best players.

Although Newton didn’t find his way onto the actual team thanks to the presence of Drew Brees. He was named Carolina’s player of the decade after a meteoric rise to superstardom that came within a whisker of the team’s first-ever Super Bowl triumph.

“This was a tough choice between Newton and middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. Both were dominant during the decade at their positions. Newton got the nod because, in addition to his play, the 2015 NFL MVP arguably was one of the league’s most iconic players of the past 10 years. From his dual-threat abilities as a quarterback to his fashion to his trendsetting dances to his community service, he elevated himself to a superstar level.”

There is a growing section of the Panthers’ support that is questioning the decision to part ways with a player they idolized for almost a decade. This was one of many tough decisions that the Panthers made this offseason. And whether this will pay off with a postseason push in the future remains to be seen.

Was Cam Newton the player of the decade for the Carolina Panthers?

There is a strong case to be made for Luke Kuechly getting this particular accolade after a standout eight-year career that ended with a shock retirement this spring. However, quarterbacks have their own special spotlight and few would argue that Cam Newton is deserving given the impact he made on the organization.

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The former No. 1 overall pick out of Auburn lived up to his billing in no uncertain terms. He led the Panthers back to prominence and became the face of the NFL for a brief period thanks to his electrifying approach that had fans on the edge of their seats whenever he was in full flow.

Newton ended his time in Carolina with a 68-55-1 record, which might not look the best. But this was down to a poor supporting cast around him at times. His completion percentage of 59.1 percent could also be better. And this was one of the main question marks when it came to his production over the years.

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That being said, Newton will still go down in Panthers’ folklore as arguably the best player in their short history. His numbers also back this up, with the player attaining 29,041 passing yards, 182 touchdowns, 102 interceptions, and a yards-per-game average of 232.3.

His rushing ability was also there with the very best. Newton was a constant dual-threat presence during his time with the organization. And he eventually finished with 4,806 yards on 934 carries, in addition to 72 touchdowns and a yards-per-carry average of 5.1.

Newton’s legacy will live through the ages. And no amount of bitterness between the player and the Panthers should take away from that.