« March 2015 | Main | May 2015 »

April 29, 2015

Cam Newton says (again) he wants to stay with Panthers 'for years to come'

Cam Newton wants to remain with the Carolina Panthers, and he expanded on that hope in a recent TV interview.

Speaking with Graham Bensinger, Newton said there’s no other team he’d rather play for as he awaits a long-term deal from the Panthers.

This isn’t exactly ground-breaking, since Newton has said multiple times in the past year and a half that his heart is in Charlotte. But with each month that passes and Carolina hasn’t locked Newton into a long-term deal, there seems to be lingering doubt in the fan base.

“I can tell you this: There’s no other place … there’s not another team that I’d rather play for than the Carolina Panthers,” Newton told Bensinger in an interview set to air on WBTV Saturday at 7:30 p.m. “I say that in such sincerity due to the fact that, like I said, when I came into this league, I was a raging bull. ‘With me, we’re going to win!’ But it’s a process.

“When I see guys like a Greg Olsen; when I see guys like a Luke Kuechly; when I see guys like the Man of the Year, Thomas Davis; when I see guys like Ryan Kalil and we get keep getting attributes on our team. Happy to get Michael Oher, happy to get Ted Ginn back. Our trend is ascending, not descending. So the league is on notice for the Carolina Panthers, and I do want to be a part of this for years to come.”

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman and coach Ron Rivera have reiterated several times that Newton is the franchise quarterback, and Gettleman feels confident a deal will eventually get done.

Newton is under contract this season with a guaranteed $14.667 million. The Panthers could use the franchise tag on Newton for the 2016 season, his sixth in the league.

When a deal is reached, Newton will likely earn an average of $20-22 million per year, depending upon the particulars of the contract and incentives that are built in.

Newton spoke about various other topics, like his advice for soon-to-be-first-pick Jameis Winston, what he went through during an NCAA investigation at Auburn and how he calls an audible before a pass to Kelvin Benjamin. You can find all the clips here.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on April 29, 2015 at 04:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 27, 2015

Players union appeals Greg Hardy suspension

The NFL wrapped up its two-month investigation of former Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy last week, but Hardy's domestic violence case is still far from over.

The NFL Players Association appealed Hardy's 10-game suspension Friday, a union spokesperson confirmed Monday.

Hardy's side is expected to argue that commissioner Roger Goodell applied Hardy's discipline retroactively under the new personal conduct policy, which was put in place in December, seven months after Hardy's arrest.

In the NFL's release last week, Goodell said Hardy's suspension would have been the same under the old policy for conduct detrimental to the league. But Ray Rice was given a two-game suspension for his domestic violence case, which started the public backlash that Hardy and Adrian Peterson were swept up in.

Peterson's suspension was lifted in February when a federal judge ruled Goodell erred in disciplining Peterson for something that happened before the new policy was in place.

Hardy, who signed an incentive-laden, one-year with Dallas in March, stands to lose as much as $5.8 million in per-game roster bonuses if the suspension is upheld.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on April 27, 2015 at 12:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 24, 2015

Cam Newton on the draft, Stephen Curry and possible Oprah connection

Cam Newton entertained nearly 800 Charlotte-area middle schoolers on Friday, and he talked about his foundation’s event, his health, the Panthers and more.

Here are a few tidbits that didn’t make the story:

On MVP candidate Stephen Curry: Newton stayed up late Thursday night—like most of us in Charlotte—to watch the magic Curry conjured up to put the Warriors into overtime and win against the Pelicans.


“He is ridiculous,” said Newton of his fellow Under Armour athlete. “I was looking at the game last night and I was watching and kind of foreshadowing him making the shot way before he made the shot. When I saw the game coming to eight points, I was like it’s only a matter of time. Anthony Davis is a big talent, but when somebody has the truth like Steph has, it’s fun to watch. Steph has always been a great friend of mine off the field, and I’ve been admiring him ever since we’ve been in contact with each other when I came to this league. He’s a native of North Carolina and for him to have the success that he’s having, I’m rooting for him.”

In a recent ESPN The Magazine article, Curry credited some of his success to watching Newton prepare at training camp in 2012.

“He came to Spartanburg and was asking the small questions, basically the details of what we do,” Newton said. “I didn’t, per se, think he understood key protections or those slides or making any audibles, (but) he was just admiring preparation on a day-to-day basis.”

On the draft: Newton didn’t publicly endorse any one prospect to the Panthers for next week’s draft, but he didn’t deny how nice it’d be to add someone else to the offense.

“Absolutely, but at the end of the day it’s out of my hands,” Newton said. “I do have full (confidence) in those guys knowing they have our best interests as an organization and a team, so I’m looking forward to it. whoever we do get, I’m pretty sure they have been researched and known about for a while and they’ll be the right fit.”

On Stedman: Before meeting with the media, Newton met with Stedman Graham, who’s best known as the longtime boyfriend of mogul Oprah Winfrey. Graham is an educator and entrepreneur.


--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on April 24, 2015 at 01:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 23, 2015

Draft guru Mayock sees tackle or receiver for Panthers at 25

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock did his annual marathon conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon, and the draft guru had plenty to say about the Panthers.

Mayock rode with conventional logic on Carolina and targeted offensive tackles and receivers with the 25th overall pick.

Here’s what he had to say.

“I always say that when you’re down there near the bottom you’ve got to be versatile. It can’t just always be about needs. I do think however that this draft will match up with their tackle needs. I mentioned earlier that I think some really gifted tackles are going to slide down toward the bottom of the first round just because there are concerns about their games, and they’re raw and young.

“Sitting at 25, I mean, any one of the following tackles could be there: Ereck Flowers, D.J. Humphries, Andrus Peat, T.J. Clemmings. All those guys could be there. Now if you didn’t like any of them, obviously you could look at corner, you could look at wide receiver. And I do believe this is a team, that even signing Ted Ginn, needs another wide receiver. Kelvin Benjamin was outstanding but they’re got to beef that up. I think it makes most sense to say take a tackle at 25 and a wideout at 57, but you’ve just got to wait and see how the board presents itself.”

I agree with what Mayock had to say except Clemmings. The former Pittsburgh tackle struggled mightily at the Senior Bowl at both left and right tackle as a raw prospect, and I get the sense Carolina isn’t interested in him as a first rounder.

Earlier in the call Mayock said LSU’s La’el Collins is his top tackle, with Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff likely to be the first one off the board but will be moved inside to guard.

Mayock said for one reason or anything he could find technique or off-the-field issues with the remaining top-tier tackles, and that should push them down the board to the bottom of the first round. 

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on April 23, 2015 at 03:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thomas Davis to announce Panthers' first draft pick

Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis didn't endorse a specific player this week when asked whom the team should take in the first round of the draft.

It turns out Davis will play a part in the process.

Davis will announce the the Panthers' first-round pick April 30 on the first night of the three-day draft in Chicago, the team said Thursday.

Davis, who was named the NFL's Man of the Year in January, is the first active player to announce a team's first-round pick.

"I'm excited. This is a huge honor. I'm going to really enjoy the moment," Davis told the Panthers' website. "I know the NFL has done some things in the past where they've had guys announce a third or fourth-round pick, but a player getting to announce the first-round pick is pretty special."

Davis was the team's first-round pick in 2005, going 14th overall.

He said this week he's all for a "best player available" approach next week when the Panthers pick 25th."When you look at this draft I don't think you can go wrong with offense or defense," he said. "There are a lot of good players in this draft and a lot of players out there that can help this team."
--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on April 23, 2015 at 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

April 20, 2015

Newton, Kuechly among best sellers in merchandise

Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly are back on the list of the top 50 NFL players in sales for the second straight year.

Based on sales of all officially licensed products by NFL Players Inc. from March 1, 2014 through Feb. 28, 2015, Newton ranks 24th among all players while Kuechly is 34th.

This year is an improvement for both players. Newton was 27th last year and Kuechly checked in at 50th.

The list includes all officially licensed products like Nike jersey and Fatheads, as well as toys and bobbleheads.

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson topped the list, beating out former No. 1 Peyton Manning.

No other Panthers’ player—current or former—made the list.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on April 20, 2015 at 03:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

April 16, 2015

Look: Hat for Carolina's top draft pick features Charlotte's skyline

Panthershat Panthershat2

The only thing the Panthers’ future first-round draft pick needs to do to see the Charlotte skyline from Chicago is look up.

New Era released pictures of its Draft Cap for this year’s NFL draft, and Carolina’s hat has Charlotte’s beautiful skyline underneath the brim of the hat.

This hat will be worn by whomever the Panthers select at No. 25 on April 30 on the first night of the draft in Chicago.

On the front is the Panthers’ logo, which is made from reflective liquid metal material. Underneath the brim is the Charlotte skyline outlined in electric blue with ‘CAROLINA’ outlined in white against the black brim.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on April 16, 2015 at 03:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 01, 2015

Cam Newton makes cameo on Be Like Mike video

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton makes a cameo appearance in Gatorade's new "Be Like Mike" video, a tribute to NBA legend and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan.

Considering Newton and Jordan are both Gatorade pitch men, as well as neighbors in an upscale Charlotte condominium, using Newton in the 1-minute spot was a natural fit.

Bryce Harper, Serena Williams and Usain Bolt also are featured in the video, which will air online and on Gatorade's social media platforms.

During the NBA All-Star weekend in February, Gatorade rolled out a digitally re-mastered version of the "Be Like Mike" ad, which first appeared 23 years ago (23 being Jordan's iconic uniform number, of course).

The sports drink giant also is re-launching Jordan's favorite Gatorade flavor. Citrus Cooler is now available with a retro label throughout the country.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on April 1, 2015 at 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)