In what might be the end of an era, the Carolina Panthers placed Superman on IR
Our heroes never fail instantly, it’s a slow build of attrition throughout years of being the hero and carrying the weight of the world on their broad shoulders until the weight becomes so insurmountable that their bodies break down against an opponent outside of their weight class. Today, Panthers fans may have witnessed the end of one of their best heroes.
The Carolina Panthers placed Cam Newton on injured reserved due to his foot injury which he suffered early in the season. General manager Marty Hurney sent out a statement earlier in the day confirming the report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“We have said all along that it is impossible to put a timetable on this injury. Nobody is more frustrated with that fact than Cam. He’s one of the fiercest competitors I’ve been around during my 20-plus years in the League. At this time, we have decided that the best decision to reach the goal of bringing the foot back to 100 percent is to place Cam on injured reserved,” Hurney said in a statement on the Panthers team website.
The fall of Superman was slow and agonizing to watch, but the team has no one to blame but themselves for the end of this era.
The Man of Steel
Newton had his first start in the 2011 season in the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, setting a record for passing yards for a rookie in his first start and in a game and nearly gave the team a comeback win in his first start.
He was the man of steel personified, from his touchdown celebration of pantomiming ripping his shirt off like Superman himself, to his ability to stay on the field regardless of the punishment he took, which translated to only missing three games from 2011 to 2017.
Newton became a hero to many in the Panthers fanbase, even started a team celebration of giving the footballs that were scored to children in the stands whenever they scored. He was christened as a savior of the franchise.
Public Opinion Changed
All the goodwill about Cam changed when the team lost Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos 24-10. Newton was roundly criticized for not going after a fumble late in the game, and was put on blast for walking out of the postgame presser in the aftermath.
When Newton missed a few games in 2016, I personally heard and saw people jumping for joy at the prospect of Derek Anderson (you read that right) being our starter going forward. That lasted one game against Seattle.
There have been plenty of people clamoring for a change after just five seasons and an MVP season the year before.
Public opinion only swelled as Newton sat and Kyle Allen played well for the team in his absence, with more and more sports minds thinking the Panthers should trade away Newton before the start of his final year under contract next season.
The Team Failed Superman
Part of the reason Newton has been such a hot button in terms of his injuries is due in large part to how the team built the roster around him.
Newton was in the top-five in terms of hits and sacks took since he entered the league. Some of that has to do with Cam looking to make long runs and his playing style, but most of the blame falls on the team.
During Newton’s tenure in Charlotte, the Panthers never spent a first-round pick on an offensive lineman, and haven’t done so since 2008 when they drafted Jeff Otah out of Pittsburgh. the highest they have ever gone during the Newton era is a second-round pick, which was spent on Greg LIttle this past NFL draft, prior to that the best pick was Trai Turner in the third round.
The next place the failed him was installing a competent backup quarterback behind Newton in the event Newton did get hurt. More often than not it was Anderson handling the clipboard.
Even when Newton was hurt, the team had little to no confidence in the backup situation and forced Newton to play. Even this season after Newton initially hurt his foot, the team trotted Newton out there even though he clearly looked hurt in the first game against the Rams.
Superman needed to be exposed to some yellow sun, or in this case a competent medical staff, and instead, the team exposed him to kryptonite and ended the era of Superman in Carolina.