For all the national sports pundits and their spewing, molten-hot takes about Cam Newton, there’s a very different sense of the quarterback within the Carolina Panthers locker room:
By placing Newton on injured reserve (IR) on Tuesday, the Panthers effectively ended Newton’s season. Per NFL rules, the nine-year veteran has to miss the remainder of the regular season and would only be eligible to return in the postseason. But if things came to that point, backup-turned-starting quarterback Kyle Allen — who has already led to the Panthers to a 5-1 record in Newton’s place this season — would have been the one to guide Carolina that far, and he understandably would continue playing.
The team released a statement Tuesday with the news, including a quote from general manager Marty Hurney praising Newton’s diligence during recovery.
On Wednesday, coach Ron Rivera reaffirmed that support for Newton.
“Cam worked very hard in working towards getting better, and he went up and saw Dr. (Robert) Anderson and he’s progressing. We feel right now probably the best thing was to put him on IR and move forward,” Rivera said. “I really do appreciate everything Cam does. I appreciate the fact that he’s still here, he still wants to be around and be part of it, and he’s done a great job doing that.”
Rivera also said the decision was “a collective thing” that was “decided upon mutually” by the team, Newton, doctors and all interested parties.
But other than that, Rivera would not entertain other questions about Newton or his potential to return later in the season.
“Just so everybody understands: That question will not be addressed until it’s time to address, OK? So at the end of the day, he’s on IR,” Rivera said of Newton returning for a later playoff run. “Kyle Allen’s our quarterback. Thank you.”
Instead, attention now turns to Allen, who has been given the keys to the car for the next eight weeks minimum. Allen has lauded Newton throughout this season for his help and guidance, and he elaborated on that as well.
“It’s tough for him. It was tough to see him go (out) last year after he worked to play through the shoulder injury all year, and see how hard he worked to get ready each week to play, and then see him rehabbing this offseason to get ready to come back this year and look great in training camp, everything go really well and then have something else happen, his foot, not even the same injury,” Allen said. “I feel for him. It’s tough for a competitor like him who’s been on top his entire career to just be struggling with these injuries, but behind the scenes you see it.
“He’s working his ass off every day to get healthy, not only for himself, but for this team. So it’s tough to see him go on IR, but I know he’s going to handle it well, and he’s going to do everything he can to get back to his full potential.”
Allen’s support also comes a day after the second-year passer posted to Instagram thanking Newton for “setting the example.”
As for Newton’s next steps, he was at the team facility Wednesday and in the locker room with teammates. He declined to speak with reporters, and has not spoken to the media since his postgame press conference in Week 2.
Newton’s teammates echoed Allen’s sentiment that while they’re sad to see him out the rest of the year, they understand the reasoning behind it.
And as safety Tre Boston said, now the media circus that has followed every step of this process can finally cease.
“I like to play devil’s advocate for y’all. It’s y’all’s job,” Boston said. “They like to come up with stuff to get ratings. They want to hear people talk about it. For us, again, the way we handle it is just indoors, in our locker room, in our building. We’ve known kind of the whole time what’s been going on.
“To hear it happen finally, you’re kind of glad, because you want him to heal. You want everybody to be quiet about Cam, Kyle, Cam, Kyle; you just couldn’t have two great quarterbacks and go on with your season that way because the media just wouldn’t let us. So for me, I’m happy.
“We’ve kind of made our decision. Because I wanted to get that weight off my brother’s chest. Obviously, he’s trying his hardest to get back each and every week; well, if you know history about the injury, it’s not easy to come back from. So I’m happy to see him get the recovery time that he needs.”