Cam Newton has played in plenty of big games dating back to his national title and Heisman Trophy season with the Auburn Tigers in 2010. And the NFL MVP favorite insists that nerves will not be a factor as he prepares for the biggest game of his career.
Speaking Wednesday about his Carolina Panthers taking on the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, Newton downplayed the notion that anxiety would get the best of him with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, per David Newton of ESPN.com:
I don’t get nervous. I’ve been playing football for too long for me to get nervous. I used to dream of being in this type of position. This is why you play football games. I idolized the quarterbacks that would be in these positions and dream like, ‘Man, I hope, I pray I get an opportunity to do it.’
These are things Newton is supposed to say in the context of preparing for a colossal game; however, it’s hard to imagine he isn’t speaking honestly.
Newton has consistently been forthright with his assessments of himself, the Panthers and the competition all season—even admitting he and the team were “playing with [their] butts tight” after nearly blowing a 31-0 lead against the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round last Sunday.
The league hasn’t seen a quarterback thrive on the bravado Newton embodies in some time, arguably since Joe Namath’s 1968 season that culminated with a successful guarantee his heavy-underdog New York Jets would upset the Johnny Unitas-led Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl III.
Now, Newton isn’t making any guarantees for Sunday like Namath did, but he has a similar swagger that has been the overbearing root of his success, looking like a kid having fun on the field.
But he’s also aware of the meaning of the Panthers’ current run—now at 16-1.
"People will be talking about the 2015 Panthers for years to come, and shame on us if we don’t capitalize on it,” Newton said.
He’s shown at every stage his identity as a purebred winner. While Newton may not be nervous for Sunday’s big game, it will probably be the first of many he plays on a stage where the stakes are so high.