NFL Week 4: Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers, and My New Found Love

Joe BarnathanCorrespondent IOctober 6, 2011

Cam Newton doing his best Lawrence of Arabia Impression
Cam Newton doing his best Lawrence of Arabia ImpressionScott Cunningham/Getty Images

Coming from Los Angeles, I've always had difficulty aligning myself with a professional football team. I suppose I should be a San Diego Chargers fan, but I could just never really connect with the team. For me, the closest thing I ever got to a favorite team were the Indianapolis Colts back when Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison were in their heyday. And that's only because they were a killer combo on Madden.

In week three of the NFL season, I became intrigued with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. In week four, I was hooked.

As a general fan of sports, I find few things more exciting than watching a young prospect develop week to week while striving to reach his potential.

And boy does Cam Newton have potential.

But Cam Newton isn't the only reason to watch this team either. Yes, he may not be the young man Giants fans remember, but Jeremy Shockey has a few downs left in him. And don't even get me started on Steve Smith, the man is fearless, and in case you haven't noticed, he's second in the league in receiving yards at a stellar 530 through four games.

On the defensive end, it is admittedly not as glamorous, but you still have Captain Munnerlyn, the undersized cornerback with the greatest name of all time. Put it all together and they're a surprisingly fun team to watch.

If you didn't catch last week's game against the Bears, you probably missed out on some key aspects to the game. Mainly, that if not for Devin Hester's two massive run backs (one for a touchdown and the other one set up a touchdown), the Panthers probably would've beaten this Bears team.

And so, for perhaps the first time in my life, I found myself watching a football game fully invested in the outcome as if it was the Super Bowl. What is even more shocking is that after the Panthers lost, all I could think about was counting down the days till this week's showdown with the Saints.

It might be a bloodbath, it might be a close battle till the end, and it might even be a Panthers upset. None of that seems to matter as of now. What does matter is Sunday afternoon, when I'll be on the edge of my seat following a professional football team through the week to week rigors of an NFL season.

And that feels pretty good.