Great players come and go, but the absolute best are remembered because they achieved greatness. They won awards, broke records and lead their teams to victory. At the end of the day, what matters most is how often one’s name comes up in the record books. With a Super Bowl victory, Cam Newton could make history at a monumental level.
Only Marcus Allen has ever won a Heisman, collegiate national championship, NFL MVP and a Super Bowl. It is the ‘cycle’ of achievement in football. Newton already has both collegiate accolades and the 2015 NFL MVP award is now his as well, not to mention that he won Rookie of the Year in 2011. Now, the only accomplishment of the major four that is left for Newton to attain is winning the Super Bowl.
The Denver Broncos are no slouches, though. After all, they made it all the way to the Super Bowl despite an odd quarterback situation. That said, the Carolina Panthers are the best team in football, bar none. They nearly went undefeated. Their lone loss was to a division rival near the tail end of the year; a point in the year where it did not at all matter if the Panthers won or lost their games. The Panthers offense was the highest scoring offense in the league as they averaged 31.3 points per game, and averaged 40 points per game in their two postseason match ups. On defense, the Panthers allowed fewer than 20 points per game, helping create a comfortable two-score average point differential.
Of course, the Panthers offense being the highest scoring offense is much more surprising than the play of their defense. It was expected for the Panthers to play well on defense, but for Newton to have elevated the Panthers offense from being a rag-tag crew of young players and castaways, like Ted Ginn and Michael Oher, was unforeseeable. Granted, Newton has been a quality quarterback for some time now. That was never in question, though (or at least it shouldn’t have been). Rather, the issue was that it would have been expected for any quarterback to struggle in that offense. Newton destroyed that expectation.
Instead of struggling to keep the offense afloat like most every other quarterback would have, Newton blew up NFL defenses. He amassed a total of 45 touchdowns, good for most in the NFL, and nearly 4,500 yards. In many ways, Newton was a one man show, but at the same time, he was elevating the play of those around him. Ginn has even gone on record claiming that Newton is the reason for his revival. Newton is a leader of men that has gotten an entire team to rally behind him. A Super Bowl win next Sunday is more than attainable.
Though, the question is whether or not completing this cycle of achievements puts Newton in Hall of Fame talk. It’s a tricky discussion. Being just under 27 years old, it feels early to talk about Newton being a Hall of Fame quality player. Though, this does not account for the fact that Newton has a good five years left on his career, at least. Barring catastrophe, Newton will end his career with plenty of accomplishments, memorable plays and moments, and flashy statistics. If Newton wins the Super Bowl this year, he will have already racked up for accolades than plenty of Hall of Fame players at just under 27 years old.
Saying that Newton would already be worthy of Hall of Fame if the Panthers win the Super Bowl would be lofty, but with the assumption that the remainder of his career goes as well as it should, or relatively close, it is fair to say that Newton will be worthy of having a bust in Canton by the time he hangs up his cleats.