SAN FRANCISCO — Don’t tug on Superman’s cape?
Wouldn’t dream of it.
But how about his britches?
“Every time I put on an attire, every single morning of my life, it’s a must-win attire,” Carolina’s Cam Newton said. “So it’s nothing different.”
Newton, who’s adopted the super hero’s persona, shook up this region known for its shaky ground when arriving for Super Bowl 50. His zebra-stripped Versace pants were the talk of the town, whether in San Francisco (where the Super Bowl 50 festivities are) or in Santa Clara (where Super Bowl 50 will be played).
His black-and-gold trousers run about $850. But it’s Newton’s priceless performance this season which has the Panthers four quarters shy of their first Super Bowl title.
“No doubt in my mind he’s going to be the MVP,” said Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, who’s won five of them. “He’s been awesome. He’s a great passer, he’s been a great runner, he’s been a great leader. You don’t go 17-1 as a starting quarterback without being awesome and that’s what he’s been this year without a doubt.”
But there are some that doubt him, or at the least, won’t buy in.
They see Newton celebrate after touchdowns and frown.
They question the authenticity of his enthusiasm.
They wonder if he’s really all that, despite what his gaudy numbers proclaim.
John Elway, another decent Broncos quarterback in his day, said those not taking a liking to Newton better take a seat.
“He’s going to continue to improve each year,” Elway predicted. “He’s got all the tools. He’s done a better job in the pocket and he’s always dangerous when he gets outside.”
Many tiptoe outside the box, bringing up Newton’s skin instead of his sizzle. He’s the sixth African-American quarterback to start a Super Bowl, joining Doug Williams (Washington), Steve McNair (Tennessee), Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia), Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco) and Russell Wilson (Seattle).
“I don’t even want to touch on the topic of black quarterback, because I think this game is bigger than black, white or even green,” said Newton, who also led Auburn to the national title as a junior-college transfer. “So I think we limit ourselves when we just label ourselves just black, this, that and the third. I wanted to bring awareness because of that, but yet I don’t think I should be labeled just a black quarterback, because it’s bigger things in this sport that need to be accomplished.”
That his complexion is a topic Super Bowl week isn’t surprising. Although wouldn’t it be grand if observers skipped that and looked solely at the player?
Once the ball is snapped, this great game is color blind.
“It’s not an issue,” Newton said. “It’s an issue for you.
“I’ve said numerous times that I play to have a stage that people will listen to, and I pray to God that I do right by my influence. So when you ask me a question about African-American or being black and mobile, it’s bigger than that, because when I go places and I talk to kids and I talk to parents and I talk to athletes all over, and they look at my story and they see a person, African-American or not, they see something that they can relate to.
“They see a guy who went a different route than just going to a major Division I school and flourishing there. Yeah, I made mistakes. It’s plenty of people; if you guys had a resume of things you made a mistake from the age that you was at 13 on to the average age right here now, is what, 46? Just teasing, but I just wanted to become relatable. It’s bigger than race. It’s more so opening up the door for guys that don’t want to be labeled, that have bigger views than say, well, I’m in this situation.”
The obstacle for the Broncos is containing Newton. He’s coming off the NFC Championship Game in which he became the first player to throw for 300 yards and have multiple rushing touchdowns.
We know, we know: Denver’s dynamite defense shut down Tom Brady for the AFC title, hitting him 20 times and causing havoc in the Patriots backfield.
Still when mentioning Newton to Wade Phillips, the Broncos’ defensive coordinator, his jolly demeanor changes direction faster than the Chargers’ Dean Spanos in looking for a stadium site.
“You’re giving my nightmares now, right?” Phillips said of Newton. “I’ve never seen one like him and nobody else has.”
True that: Newton is the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 30 touchdowns and rush for at least 10 scores in a season.
“Cam is a dynamic guy,” Denver’s DeMarcus Ware said. “He keeps the chains moving and if there is nobody open, he can run very, very effectively. So we need to make sure we’re on our Ps and Qs.”
Newton knows all about the Ps.
“My father always taught me the proper Ps of success: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performances,” he said. “That’s still the words that I live by, especially in big moments.”
Newton skipped one P and if he won’t mention those eye-brow raising pants, we will.
“I guess you’ll have to get used to it, because I don’t plan on changing,” he said.
Newton was talking about his game, wasn’t he?
+ Contact Jay Paris at jparisbcaradio.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jparis_sports