When it comes to having fun on the gridiron, no one tops the Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. You rarely see him without a smile on his face, and, of course, who can forget the dab? He brings a certain level of entertainment and enjoyment to the game, and there’s a reason for that: In December of 2014, Cam Newton was in a car accident that nearly claimed his life. New he uses that incident to fuel his spirit on the field, and his teammates have taken notice.
Cam Newton was recently awarded the Ed Block Courage Award, after being nominated by his teammates for the award. This is likely not the only award Newton will be given this year. Here’s why he deserves the Ed Block Courage Award this year.
Struggling Before the Accident
Cam Newton’s career so far with the Carolina Panthers has been riddled with injury. He went into the 2014 season coming off of a major ankle surgery. Yet, he still put of massive passing and rushing numbers. Any given week, he may be suffering from bruised ribs, muscles and any other number of minor injuries. But as one of the biggest quarterbacks in the league, he always has a huge target on his back. This doesn’t stop him from carrying his team by throwing crucial touchdown passes and running down the field on his own.
These injuries and constant hits from his opponents’ defenses didn’t bring him down. In 2014 alone, he threw for 3,127 yards and 18 touchdowns. In addition, he ran for 539 yards and five touchdowns. To make it even more impressive, he missed two games at the beginning of the season. But his toughest struggles were still to come.
A Fateful Day in December
On Tuesday, December 9, 2014, Cam Newton was on his day off. Of course, being the dedicated player he is, Newton made his way down to the Carolina Panthers’ stadium to watch game film. On his way, a car pulled out in front of his truck and clipped him. Newton’s truck skidded over and flipped, coming to a stop on the Interstate 277 overpass. If he had skidded a few more feet, his truck would have fallen off of the overpass.
After the accident, Newton managed to pull himself from the wreckage and limp to the side of the highway. When the medical staff arrived, they rushed him to the hospital for examination. Somehow, Newton made it out of the wreckage without a bruise or cut. His injuries consisted of two transverse fractures in his back. After an overnight stay, he was in the Panthers locker room the next day — not suited to play, of course.
A Changed Person
Even though the wreck could have been much worse, Newton realized what life was really about. He says one of the things he remembers most after the accident was standing on the side of the highway with a big smile on his face. He only missed one week due to his injuries. If you asked his teammates, they would say it was a completely different Cam Newton on the field when he returned. This was when he learned to smile through his adversity. At the beginning of his career, a loss would put him in a terrible mood that resonated throughout the rest of the team. Now, he smiles through the disappointment and enjoys his life, no matter what is going on around him.
In Cam’s eyes, he doesn’t care what his critics think. He knows pundits, both professional and otherwise, think he acts like a child on the field. His dancing, his constant talking and, of course, that huge Cheshire grin are a part of who he is now. Has that positivity lead to the Panthers’ new-found success? Whether or not it has, it has created a new atmosphere for the team.
A Good Reason for Joy
Now, Cam is seen as one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Besides the Ed Block Courage Award, he is on track to be the NFL’s Most Valuable Player this season. In the 2015 regular season, he passed for 3,837 yards and 35 touchdowns. In addition, he ran for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns. While these are not the best quarterback stats in the league, his fight through adversity has given him unquantifiable qualities that have propelled him to the top.
Now, after Cam and the rest of the Panthers thrashed the Arizona Cardinals, they are on their way to face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Newton showed his dedication to playing the game well and having fun while doing it, giving ball after ball to fans in the stands. This playoff win at home propels the Panthers to their first Super Bowl in 13 years. With the dynamic the team presents, this year could easily be the franchise’s first championship win.
Love him or hate him, Cam Newton has taught us one thing: Car accidents define our lives. We can let them ruin us, or we can take the experience and let them shape us into an even better version of ourselves. The most important thing to remember: No one can make that decision except you.