Carolina Panthers  


Cam Newton is, quite simply, the best player in the NFL today


America, meet the best player in the NFL.

He's a smile-wearing, dab-doing, touchdown-throwing, touchdown-running, team-leading, football-giving, fox-tail-wearing cat.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's Mr. Cam Newton.

And it is flat-out fantastic that the face of the NFL is in the Super Bowl.

He's talented, big-hearted, confident-on-the-border-of-cocky, and he has this gift. And oh, it's a gift.

Cam Newton plays his best when it matters the most. Cam Newton is built for this stage.

I've been on record all year calling the Arizona Cardinals the most complete team in the NFL; the best roster, 1-53, in the entire league. I picked Arizona to win on Sunday.


This was an old-fashioned demolition, with Newton leading the way -- 49-15, Carolina Panthers.


Cam's touch was on display. His toughness was on display. Cam's arm was on display. His legs were on display.

There's also another way to view it: This is the norm. This is what megastars do. This is what the best players in a sport do. This is what Steph Curry does. This is Cam Newton.

Early in his career, Cam didn't get it. And I wrote about it.

Then, two months ago, I penned my "I was wrong" mea culpa to Carolina. Newton has totally changed for the better. He's grown and matured. And you have to recognize it. His teammates pointed it out to me earlier in this glorious season for the Panthers.

On my SiriusXM Radio show, "Schein on Sports," Thomas Davis said: "As a young kid, he came in and had a lot thrown on his shoulders early. But now, he's grown into the leader that we fully expected him to become, and his maturity level has gone up tremendously accepting that role."

Greg Olsen told me, "He's a clutch guy. He thrives in those moments. When things aren't going our way, he gets it done."

Indeed he does. And now, as Newton prepares to take the biggest stage in American sports, it's time to give him his due.

I am one of the 50 voters for The Associated Press' NFL awards. And when it came to MVP, I didn't hesitate casting my vote this time around. I voted Cam. He earned it. His stats -- including 35 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns -- are dazzling. But the raw numbers only tell you so much. The 26-year-old quarterback, quite simply, carried this 21-year-old franchise to new heights. After losing his top wide receiver (Kelvin Benjamin) in the preseason -- and consequently, having many folks give up on his team's chances of contention -- Cam proceeded to guide the Panthers to an NFL-best 15-1 regular-season mark, scoring a league-leading, well-rounded total of 500 points in the process. The fourth-quarter comebacks against Seattle and New Orleans were signature moments for Newton.

But I want to confess something. I didn't vote Cam as Offensive Player of the Year -- giving that honor to Tom Brady. And while I did select Newton as my first-team All-Pro quarterback, I paused for a minute before typing in his name. Maybe it was the 59.8 percent completion rate. Maybe it was the respect I had for what Brady and Carson Palmer accomplished throughout the regular season, or how Russell Wilson played in the second half.

There's no more pause. There's no more hesitation. Cam Newton is the best player in the NFL. Nobody does more.

Aaron Rodgers is dreamy -- a guy who has everything you want in a signal caller, a guy who makes ex-quarterbacks-turned-analysts rightfully drool when talking about his gifts. (I, of course, drool over his gifts, too.) Brady is Brady -- the man with four Lombardi Trophies, three Super Bowl MVPs and two regular-season MVPs. Cam's going to play in Super Bowl 50 against a living legend (and five-time league MVP) in Peyton Manning.

But let's be honest: While respecting the skills and completion percentages of all of the above QBs, Cam's the best player in the league today.

J.J. Watt had another season for the ages. Cam's the best player in the league, having just led his team to the Super Bowl with a 34-point NFC title game smackdown.

The haters are just going to have to deal with it.

Look, I could understand questioning Cam's act a few years ago. I did, as mentioned above. But you have to acknowledge he is different -- and amazing.

And with what we've seen from Newton in the 2015 campaign, I actually no longer understand the hate. I don't understand why you wouldn't consider Cam the face of the NFL.

Cam Newton dances and dabs. So what? Watt brazenly celebrates -- and sometimes takes faux selfies -- after QB sacks. Rodgers skips and jumps around and does the Discount Double Check. What's the difference? If you're cool with Watt and Rodgers -- but not Cam -- you should check yourself. If you have an issue with Cam dancing, keep him out of the end zone.

Cam Newton does so much good in the community, helping the youth with extensive charitable works and routinely lifting sick kids with hospital visits. He should receive more credit for this.

It's amazing that Cam, at this stage, could still be polarizing. It's staggering to me that, when we bring him up on the radio, his likability is actually questioned.

Cam Newton has become everything right with the NFL.

Now, you have two weeks to appreciate the game's best player (if, for whatever reason, you don't already).

Cam Newton, the face of the NFL, in the Golden Super Bowl. It's perfect.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.



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