Cam Newton: Panthers Rookie Beats Matthew Stafford for Pro Bowl Roster

Joye Pruitt@joyethewarSenior Analyst IJanuary 23, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 1: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers scrambles against Cameron Jordan #94 of the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers have announced that Cam Newton will be replacing Eli Manning in the Pro Bowl. Upset much?

You probably are if your favorite quarterback was shunned for the mention. Detroit Lions fans must be up in arms because Matthew Stafford was apparently looked over after emerging as one of the better passers in the game with a team battling from the pits of NFL foolishness.

However, on the opposite side of the coin, the arrival in Hawaii at the Pro Bowl for Newton caps off one of the best rookie seasons the league has seen in a long time—maybe ever. With not much to smile about in Charlotte before his entry into the NFL by way of the 2011 NFL draft as the first overall pick, Newton has changed the perception of the Panthers tremendously.

Not only should he be adequately recognized for changing the culture of the football team, but he should also be somewhat credited for the dawn of a new day for veteran wide receiver Steve Smith.

Not to say that everything Smith accomplished this season was not primarily on his accord. Smith’s strength, vision and agility on the field are the grandest complements to Newton’s passing game. Smith resonated himself as Newton’s safest option before both Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen. Tight end sets have boosted Carolina’s resume a lot, but Smith is the biggest reason for Newton’s success.

Then again, without the accuracy of the flamethrower attached to Newton’s shoulder, Smith would be stuck in the same position he was with former Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen. There would have been another unhappy, widely unproductive veteran receiver just wasting away with a quarterback who refused to recognize his own potential.

Whether you believe in his future in the league or not, his first game of 422 passing yards was not a fluke. His next game of 400-plus passing yards was not a fluke. It doesn't matter how you look at it, 4,051 yards, 21 passing touchdowns and 14 rushing touchdowns is not a fluke.

As a rookie in one of the toughest professional sports in the world, respect has to be earned and not just tossed in the lap of those who believe they are worthy. Notoriety comes in the wake of blood, sweat, tears and failure before victory.

Cam Newton’s mention for the Pro Bowl only proves that he deserves it, and the football gods have taken firm notice.


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