Cam Newton braced himself as if he was about to walk on a soccer field.
He stretched his legs a bit, moved around and told jokes. And then, when it was his turn, he ran the Topgolf course with his arms outstretched, as he would at Bank of America Stadium.
And then the Panthers quarterback asked for some help from the 1,300 kids and family in attendance.
A little help to “fix your problem”.
At Cam Newton’s eighth annual Thanksgiving Jam on Monday, Newton made his first public appearance since being placed on an injured reserve following an injury at Lisfranc on November 5. bring them another full meal home for Thursday. They also enjoyed a night full of dancing and golfing, and time with Newton, who made sure to take a selfie with anyone who asked. And he made sure to joke with the kids who chose not to have gravy or green beans on their plates.
But the big question on everyone’s mind was Newton’s future with the Panthers. And this “problem” that he has been dealing with since August. For the nine-year veteran, the time away from the football field has not been easy.
“It has been a trying year for me in many ways,” Newton said. “But at the end of the day, being in that kind of atmosphere would help anyone.”
On several occasions Monday, Newton mentioned that it had been a difficult year and a “long process.” He told the children, many of whom were in his swimsuits, that he “really, really misses him.”
“Even though I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, I’ve been through so many different universities, but Charlotte is home,” Newton said. “Charlotte is a place where I know people know me, not just guessing how I am, they know my energy, they know what I like, they know what I don’t like, for me having this guy presence is just gratifying or reminds you that it is right.
Newton has only played two regular season games this year after injuring his foot in the team’s third preseason game against the New England Patriots.
At Thanksgiving Jam, Newton explained that the injury and time away from the pitch forced him to reflect and change his perspective.
“I was in a place I wasn’t used to being and you know a team you’re a part of is equipped with everything but your presence, so to speak,” Newton said. “But at the same time, me being in the position that I am, me having the impact and me having the pinnacle that I have had, I think it’s extremely important to take my ego out, so to speak, and just to put the team first and just to put others first.
Newton acknowledging that Carolina was built to win now is an idea that has been circulating around the Panthers all season. While the squad has a solid foundation, discussions of ‘growing pains’ and ‘learning experiences’ accompany every less than satisfactory performance from young players, including quarterback Kyle Allen, who has got a 5-4 record in his starts this year.
Growing pains are not usually associated with playoff teams.
Despite a bleak future, the Panthers showed their support for Newton at the event. Team owner David Tepper and his wife Nicole were in attendance.
“It means a lot to him and his wife just their unwavering support,” Newton said of the Teppers coming. “There are so many people helping me through the process to make my life easier and from comments to text messages to voicemail messages to phone calls and everything in between. It’s just great to see some people never change with you, and to know that you can still depend on some people.
Tepper’s backing comes a week after Charlotte told media he didn’t know what was coming next with Newton and the Panthers and that the quarterback needed to be in good health. Health has been elusive for Newton, who underwent a right shoulder surgery in January after his throw was significantly hampered by injury during the 2018 season.
There likely won’t be a resolution on Newton’s long-term health – or his future with the Panthers – for some time. But when it comes to what he wants, he’s been tough on the fact that Charlotte isn’t just a place he plays football, it’s his home.