It isn't an absolute necessity for Newton to be named a captain, as the Panthers attempt to take the necessary steps en route to their ultimate goal, but entering his third professional season as the full-time starter, now's the appropriate time to put the "C" on his uniform.
Per the Charlotte Observer, Newton said the following in regards to the possibility of being named a captain in 2013:
I recognize—and everyone knows around the league—when you’re a team captain that’s not just a patch on the jersey. You’re holding yourself to a higher standard with being accountable. I’m going about it each and every day and trying to make that happen.
The above article pointed out that Steve Smith and Jordan Gross are "entrenched" as the team's offensive captains, and Carolina has "never had more than two captains on offense, defense or special teams" since 2002.
So, clearly, Newton will have to earn the distinction, which comes from gaining the utmost respect from teammates and coaches.
Plenty has been made about the former Auburn star's first two years in the NFL.
During his debut 32-game stretch, Newton has thrown for more yards (7,920) than any quarterback entering his third campaign in NFL history.
He's established himself as a powerful, yet elusive runner, with a 5.7 yards-per-carry average and 22 rushing touchdowns. He's struggled with accuracy, lost six more games than he's won and received vast ridicule for the way he's handled himself in defeat.
As a 22-year-old rookie, Newton burst onto the scene individually, throwing for over 421 yards in his first two professional games.
However, his Panthers were getting beat—Often.
The quarterback who went undefeated in junior college before leading another undefeated season in the SEC the following year didn't take to losing very well.
He was caught with a towel over his head sulking on the sidelines and gave visibly distraught press conference interviews.
Fellow Pro Bowlers ripped him for having a me-first attitude at the All-Star Game, one that was plausible after his "immature" sideline and postgame behavior during the regular season.
Since then, the target on Newton's back has been exponentially growing.
Whenever he did anything that could possibly be construed as a perpetuation of his supposed selfish attitude, it was overblown by the media.
But after that scolding, the 6'5'' quarterback didn't have another legitimate sophomoric moping incident.
Frankly, I like Newton's personality.
I want my quarterback to be visibly worked up in defeat and expect to win.
Sure, he's probably a little too open with his feelings to avoid criticism from today's hypersensitive media, but I'd rather have Newton's genuine postgame responses than lifeless, politically correct ones.
He does need to be more poised on the sidelines if his team's losing to set a better example—without a doubt.
But if the Panthers win more consistently—just watch—Newton will be applauded for the same impassioned demeanor that damaged his reputation heading into 2013.
With the future of the franchise on his shoulders and improving maturity, Cam Newton should be named a Panthers captain.
If not, doesn't that mean Carolina drafted and is riding a quarterback whom they don't see as a leader?