Size, arm strength, toughness, power, speed, and intelligence. The maturing of all those talents is coming into fruition every week. Newton has led the Carolina Panthers to a perfect 12-0 record, and he is the front runner for the NFL’s MVP Award.
In some subtle ways, Cam Newton is a culmination of the black quarterbacks that paved the way for him.
Cam has the the arm of the late ‘Jefferson Street’ Joe Gilliam, the former Tennessee State University quarterback, and two time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Like Jefferson Street Joe, Newton can make any throw, to any where on the field. The ball leaves his hands as if it were shot by a missile launcher, the same as Gilliam’s.
Checking in at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Cam has the size and stature of Doug Williams (6-4, 220 pounds) , who were able to stay tall and strong in the pocket, as if they were a football version of the Liberty Statue. How many times have you seen defenders literally hanging off Newton as he makes a throw?
Newton’s athleticism reminds me of Randall Cunningham, who dazzled the NFL during his 16-year career with his spectacular playmaking. And while Newton doesn’t have the flat line speed of Michael Vick, his ability to get out of the pocket and run the ball effectively makes him the dual threat that Vick was in his prime.
Newton’s toughness and leadership brings to mind the late, great Steve McNair, the former Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens standout. McNair had comparable size [6-3, 230 pounds], to Newton, and he could take, and deliver punishment.
And perhaps Newton’s most overlooked strength is his football IQ. He has learned where, and where not, to throw the football. He reads defenses the way Warren Moon did during his Hall of Fame career with the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings.
The construct of Cam Newton has been a long time coming for the African-American quarterback. And, since the days when modern day pioneers like Denver’s Marlon Briscoe and Eldridge Dickey, a first-round draft pick by Oakland in 1968, began laying the foundation, black quarterbacks have gotten better and better.
Cam Newton not only carries their legacy, he is on his way of creating a legacy as one of the game’s finest quarterbacks, period.