Cam Newton's meteoric rise over the last year has been amazing to watch. Though he has always been a top-tier quarterback, he is now firmly entrenched in the MVP conversation, with no other choices making much sense at the moment.
Newton is starting dance crazes, wowing the people of Charlotte with his charitable efforts and leading the best team in football through an incredible run that hasn't seen the team lose a regular-season game in more than a year.
But Newton will probably agree that the best part of this last year is that he's here playing at all.
Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of a car accident that sent Newton's truck flipping onto the local interstate. He was t-boned at a dangerous intersection near the team's facility and taken to the hospital. Miraculously, it was revealed that Newton only had two small fractures in his back and he ended up missing just one game while leading the Panthers on a playoff push.
The Charlotte Observer has a great look back, including some quotes from some of Newton's closest friends a year later.
The funny thing was how they could tell Newton was fine. He wore that trademark smile as he entered the ambulance.
"We knew he was good. From like the pictures, he was smiling," Philly Brown said. "They said he didn't even really want to go in there. So we knew he'd be all right."
That didn't change the fact that Newton's life probably flashed before his eyes.
This has to be an emotional benchmark for him.
"I'm looking at this truck and thinking someone's supposed to be dead," Newton said at the time. "I couldn't stop smiling."
"I'm on somebody's fantasy team, and I think it's the man upstairs."
For those who believe in such things, it was an unbelievable example of fate or luck or incredibly fortunate timing. But either way, Newton has taken full advantage of his past year.