When Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton scored his third touchdown in Sunday's game, he made a beeline to the 16-year-old girl in the back of the end zone wearing a shirt that said "Mrs. Newton" on the back.
Katie Brown had spent the previous night designing the T-shirt and, with the help of some fans sitting around her, had attracted the attention of the rookie superstar earlier in the game. Newton acknowledged her with a smile and a laugh. Now, he was running over to give her the ball he had just carried across the goal line.
"It was the most amazing moment," Brown told the Associated Press. The New Port Richie, Fla., teenager had become a fan of Newton's while watching him play at Auburn and had asked her father to take her to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After telling her that he couldn't afford tickets, D.J. Brown surprised his daughter with four, front-row seats to the game.
"I thought he was going to do his Superman celebration like he normally does, but then all of sudden he started running over and pointed right at me," she said. "I was in shock. I thought, I must be in a dream."
She was quickly snapped out of it. That ball, you see, was used to score Newton's 13th rushing touchdown of the season, breaking the NFL record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. The Carolina Panthers equipment staff knew that and had an inkling that the Pro Football Hall of Fame may want the piece of memorabilia. So it was left to assistant equipment manager Don Toner to make a trade.
"I just asked her real nice, 'Would you mind exchanging that ball — we kind of need it,'" Toner told the AP. "And she was real sweet about it. She didn't hesitate. She was so excited she was trembling. She was just giddy about what had just happened."
Toner had grabbed a kicking tee, a game ball and four hats for the exchange. He says the team will also send her something in the mail. We hope it's something signed by Newton.
Brown didn't mind making the exchange.
"I honestly believe Cam deserves to have that ball because it was his record and his achievement." she said. "He should have it."
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