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Cam Newton and the greatest first-game performance in NFL history: Fan reaction
Almost exactly thirteen years ago, a rookie quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts by the name of Peyton Manning(notes) threw for 302 yards in the first game of his career. Facing off against the Miami Dolphins and the NFL's most prolific passer at the time, Dan Marino, Manning set the record for the most yards thrown by a rookie, impressed an idol and let everyone take a glimpse into the NFL's crystal ball.
Fast forward over a decade and on the ten-year anniversary of a terrorist attack on America that few would've expected in 1998, a much less significant but still unforeseen event took place.
On September 11th, 2011, Cam Newton crushed Peyton Manning's record by throwing an astonishing 422 yards and carved up the Arizona Cardinal's defense like a veteran NFL Pro Bowl quarterback.
But, Cam Newton was somehow being dubbed a "running QB." He rushed for 18 yards.
Newton has loudly declared (without uttering a word): DOUBTERS BEWARE!
Cam Newton is dangerous.
Carolina Panther's wide receiver Steve Smith said of his new star QB: "He was everything everybody didn't expect him to be. He was on point, he made some great runs, he made some great reads, made some fantastic throws. He made some throws out there that honestly as a receiver it made it easy to catch them."
Even Newton's victims had nothing but rave reviews as Arizona linebacker Paris Leon told reporters: "He's a big, athletic, strong quarterback. The guy can run the ball and throw the ball well. He's definitely going to be a major force in this league."
Now, I'll be the first to admit I had my doubts about Cam Newton. We all know that dominance in college doesn't necessarily transfer into NFL stardom.
Also, there's a lot of noise surrounding Newton's attitude and intangibles. To me, however, it's just too hard to distinguish reality from fiction and villain-creation in the sports media.
So here's what I'm certain about: it took less than eight minutes into his career for Cam Newton to drop a 77-yard bomb on all of the critics who said who couldn't be an NFL passer.
Just imagine Skip Bayless under a table somewhere, curled up in fetal position, hands covering ears, praying that radiation in the form of shame and finger-pointing from the Newton-sized detonation won't reach him.
Someone needs to cut-up the tape of Bayless on ESPN's First Take predicting that Tebow would be better than Newton and declaring that he was a more accurate passer and create a montage of his sound bites with the Newton performance against the Cardinals.
Delicious YouTube fodder.
Vindication aside, Cam Newton just had the most wildly successful first game as a quarterback, ever. And, given the totality of a quarterback's impact, it may have been the best career-opening performance in NFL history, period.
But if you're a Panthers fan or just a fan of great football, you want to hear the best part?
Newton is just 22.
The kid is 6'5'', 250. All-muscle. Explosive mobility.
So what do you call a "running QB" who can throw for 400+ yards in his first game?
And what happens when he grows?
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