Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton turned heads Tuesday when he posted a picture of his 2008 mug shot on Instagram, and he said Wednesday he did so because it reminded him of the "day it got as real as it's ever gotten in my life."
David Newton of ESPN.com shared Newton's explanation for posting the picture on the ninth anniversary of when he was arrested for stealing a laptop while enrolled at the University of Florida.
"I wasn't just in the holding cell," Newton said. "If you really look into that picture, you seen green and white [color of jumpsuit]. That wasn't a polo sweater. That day it got as real as it's ever gotten in my life. To realize if I ever want what I want in life, this is the determining factor."
He pointed to a number of things he was thankful for in the Instagram message with the picture:
David Newton noted the quarterback was charged with felony counts of burglary, larceny and obstructing justice and was suspended from the team and eventually transferred to Blinn College. He rewrote his story from there, transferring to Auburn, winning a national championship, winning the 2010 Heisman Trophy, becoming the 2011 No. 1 overall pick, winning the 2015 league MVP and reaching Super Bowl 50.
To hear Newton tell it, the day he was arrested helped him turn his life around.
"I call it my 'Resurrection Day' because a lot of me changed that day for obvious reasons," Newton said. "It ended up being my biggest scar, in essence, being embarrassed, it ended up being my biggest star."
While the Panthers quarterback drew negative headlines earlier this year with sexist comments about a female reporter, he has avoided legal trouble since the laptop incident at Florida and has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
His Panthers are 7-3 and a game behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South this season thanks largely to his 2,232 passing yards, 436 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns.
Newton and Carolina will put a three-game winning streak on the line Sunday against the New York Jets.