Summer 2024

Cam Newton scores two TDs in Panthers return, says he's 'just a vessel of God'

A week ago on Sunday evening, Cam Newton said he was eating a bowl of cereal. This Sunday, he was talking to the media after accounting for two touchdowns — one rushing, one passing — for the Carolina Panthers in a surprising 34-10 upset of the previously 8-1 Arizona Cardinals.

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He was just signed by the team on Thursday — the team that drafted him No. 1 overall out of Auburn in 2011 and for whom he played nine years (winning the 2015 NFL MVP award) before the Panthers cut him in March 2020. The quarterback was signed later that summer by the New England Patriots, for whom he started 15 games last season. But the Patriots released Newton in August, and he had been sitting at home until last week, when Panthers head coach Matt Rhule called him to see if he’d be interested in rejoining the Panthers.

Starting quarterback Sam Darnold was placed on injured reserve after suffering a shoulder injury last week, opening up the idea to bring Newton back.

Not only was Newton interested in returning to the Panthers, he made an impact immediately. Despite knowing very little of the playbook, he was inserted for a designed third-down running play less than four minutes into the first quarter with Carolina at the Cardinals’ 2-yard line. Newton took the snap to the right side and scored on his first play.

On their next drive, the Panthers drove to nearly the exact same spot on the field. Newton entered the game again (P.J. Walker was the team’s starting quarterback) and scored again, this time throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson.

It gave the Panthers (5-5) a 14-0 lead, which grew to 23-0 by halftime. Newton finished the game completing three of his four passes for eight yards, and rushing three times for 14 yards.

On the field speaking to FOX after the game, Newton praised God.

“I just want to take this opportunity — man, wow — whoever’s watching this, God is real. That’s fact,” he said. “I’m just a vessel of Him and He’s working in my life. I was teasing some people about it, about what’s going on. You can’t even make up a lie this good. I’m just happy to be back. I’m just happy to be a contributor to a team that’s already good; we’re just trying to get over the hump.”

Newton expanded on what’s going on in his postgame press conference. When asked what was going through his mind when he came on to the field in his uniform and took a moment to himself, he said, “Man, God is good, I can tell you that. There’s something about the significance of today.”

He recalled that the site of Sunday’s game, StateFarm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, was where he played his final collegiate game, the 2010-11 BCS National Championship Game in which Auburn defeated Oregon, 22-19. It was also where he played his first regular-season NFL game, a 28-21 loss to the Cardinals on Sept. 11, 2011. And it’s where he made his return with the Panthers.

“It’s crazy. God’s working in my life right now, and I’m not hiding away from it,” Newton said in the postgame press conference.

He then shared what he read in his devotional Sunday morning.

“I was reading about Moses, and God spoke to Moses in the desert. Where are we at?” he asked. He then smiled, because Arizona is in a desert.

“You’ve got the desert, you’ve got, obviously, the Cardinals speak on the Red Sea,” he continued. The Cardinals, whose primary team color is red, often refer to their fans as the Red Sea, and of course Moses in the Bible led the Israelites through the Red Sea.

The crazy turn of events in his life has Newton giving sole acknowledgment to God.

“I can’t even take the credit. I don’t want to take the credit. I refuse to take the credit. This is all God’s work,” he said.

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