Cam Newton’s effect on Charlotte? He fed the homeless after Panthers home games

In this 2018 Charlotte Observer file photo, Cam Newton serves up some mac and cheese to a young...
In this 2018 Charlotte Observer file photo, Cam Newton serves up some mac and cheese to a young guest at the 7th annual Cam’s Thanksgiving Jam.(John D. Simmons | The Charlotte Observer)
Published: Mar. 21, 2020 at 12:10 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - Since being drafted first overall in the 2011 NFL draft, Cam Newton has become synonymous with the Carolina Panthers.

Only time will allow us to get the full perspective of what he has meant to the organization, Charlotte and the Carolinas. There are plenty of memories on and off the field that characterize his time and there is plenty he should be remembered for over his nine years with the Panthers organization.

Of all the ways to put his career in perspective, we’re going to illustrate the impact of his ups and the downs on and off the field through the numbers that defined his career.

How much money the Cam Newton Foundation has given in grant funding, year-round programming resources and donations to schools and non-profit agencies in Atlanta and Charlotte since it was established in 2012, per Kim Beal, Executive Director of the Cam Newton Foundation. More than 12,500 student-athletes have been impacted and more than 11,850 students have been fed or received assistance during the holiday season because of the events the foundation holds. From his annual Thanksgiving Jam and Santa Cam’s Surprise Sleigh events during the holiday season to a variety of events throughout the spring.

Newton’s off-the-field impact has been just as powerful as what he has been able to do on the field. Some of what he does is public and promoted, but not all of his actions extend to the public light.

After Panthers home games, he provided items from pizza to blankets and everything in between to homeless individuals. It’s not something that’s at all connected to the Foundation, the money that went into that can’t be accounted for in the $5.13 million figure. People involved in his foundation weren’t even aware he was doing it, and then pictures of him walking around Tryon Street in Uptown Charlotte showed up online. He’d take friends and family with him, sometimes it was documented, sometimes not. Newton aspired to be approachable and accessible so that he could impact many.

Newton will leave the Panthers as the franchise leader in a variety of passing categories, but his 29,041 total passing yards most accurately reflect the time he has put in. He has nearly 10,000 more passing yards than the next closest player (Jake Delhomme) and averaged 232.3 yards per game. He is also the franchise leader in touchdown passes, pass attempts, completions and 300-yard passing games.

Of all the individual throws or touchdown passes that could be used to remember him, this number shows the durability he had through the first seven seasons of his career. It also reflects the place he has all-time among Panthers quarterbacks. It will take a long time for someone to top him.

His MVP year and the season that he led the Panthers on a Super Bowl run. It was statistically the best year of his career for a multitude of reasons, including his 10 interceptions and 35 touchdown passes, in addition to 10 rushing touchdowns. He became the first player in NFL history with at least 30 touchdown passes and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season.

The year ended in heartbreak with a loss in Super Bowl 50, but the 15-1 regular season and the performance Newton put on that year are an important part of his legacy.

The number of student-athletes that have participated in his 7-on-7 All-Star Team, which affords the opportunity to counsel and prepare elite-level high school players for the next step in their football development. The program has given Newton the ability to mentor up-and-coming players, including 10 active and former NFL players, including Deshaun Watson and Michael Gallup, and 75 college student-athletes currently playing.

Newton has taken 291 sacks in his nine seasons. It’s hard to tell the story of his time in Carolina without the sacks. The sacks that were taken because of his style of play, the sacks that were because of a weak offensive line and the sacks that helped lead to the injures and thus, the end of his time with the Panthers.

Only five players have been sacked more than Newton since he entered the league in 2011 and all of them played more games.

Newton has scored a total of 126 touchdowns in the regular and postseason combined at Bank of America Stadium, but it wasn’t until his fourth home game that he started his touchdown tradition. The idea originated from former Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula, who didn’t like Newton’s original celebrations and instead recommended he give the ball to kid in the stands.

120 footballs passed out to young fans in the stands after all the touchdowns he’s scored at home. Perhaps not every one of those balls from the beginning to the end of his nine-year career was given to a young fan, but it’s got to be pretty darn close. The tradition has certainly become one of the more special ones when the Panthers play in Charlotte.

No Panther has more rushing touchdowns than his 58. Jonathan Stewart is the next closest with 51. Newton has the team’s most passing (182) and rushing touchdowns, and it is the most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. No running back in the team’s 25 years has totaled more than their quarterback. Not many franchises can say that.

The number of surgeries Newton had over the last few years of his career, two on his shoulder and one on his foot in December. Injuries are what led to the end of his time in Carolina, no matter how you look at it. Everything is different if his shoulder doesn’t become a problem in 2018. Not deciding until December to get surgery done — due to trying to avoid it all together — on his Lisfranc injury led to him being more difficult to trade this offseason, especially with the limits due to the coronavirus. The significant injuries helped lead to the beginning of the end.

Former first overall pick, top quarterback in franchise history and number one on his jersey.

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