I have a really bad taste in my mouth today. It's the after-taste of crow that I ate watching the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Cam Newton stuffed it down my throat all afternoon on Sunday. While I doubt he heard me directly, I’m sure that Mr. Newton heard the chorus of critics of his preseason performance.
Now, Cam had some help. Joey Hawkins of Open Mic Daily (www.espnspartanburg.com) was more than happy to criticize me on Twitter (@TheRev78). Other callers to The Home-Field Advantage (9-10 am daily) were glad to tell me that I was wrong.
I defended my position vigorously throughout the week. I abandoned my decision by 8 pm Sunday night.
Now, let’s not do what the sports media always does with the NFL. Let’s not overreact to the week one results. Cam Newton is going to have bad games this season. He’s going to throw picks, miss reads, and make bad decisions.
Remember that the Green Bay Packers come to Charlotte this week, and that’s going to be a little tougher than the Arizona Cardinals.
My radio partner Toby “Johnny Utah” Earl is already shopping for his Newton jersey, and rumor has it that the Panthers’ QB has already sent a copy of his picture to team security. Toby isn’t just drinking the Kool-Aid. He’s chugging it. I’m not ready to go quite that far.
What I am ready to say is that I totally misjudged Newton, based on the worst “tell” in sports: Preseason NFL football. He looked lost against poor defenses in the first four games.
Sunday against the Cardinals, he looked like a man among boys. His 422 yards rank this among the best rookie QB performances in the history—the HISTORY—of the NFL.
Still, there are 16 more weeks of this, and let us keep in mind that the Panthers did not win the game. What Cam Newton did show is unbelievable presence, poise, confidence and—most importantly—unlimited potential. He certainly showed enough to make me apologize and at least start sipping the Kool-Aid.
Hopefully, I’ll soon be able to drink the full pitcher. Maybe it will wash that leftover crow out of my mouth.