In the continuation of our draft week "Interviewpalooza" (we've got a few more interesting names on the way), here's an exclusive interview with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who was named Gatorade's newest roster athlete during Super Bowl week. He spent some time in Mid-March shooting his first Gatorade commercial, which will focus on his pre-game nutrition and rituals. It's something that's been on Newton's mind a lot as he looks to improve on a rookie season in which he set several marks for first-year NFL quarterbacks.
"If you play this game long enough, you're going to have games where your body will give you a wakeup call," he said. "And that's where putting the right things in your body has paid dividends for so many different players. Nutrition is something that I've been trying to focus on this off-season. Having better nutrition than I have had in years before. With the way I'm looking right now, I have been making progress."
Shutdown Corner: So this is your first official NFL offseason, what with the lockout last year. What have you been up to?
Cam Newton: Man, I've been busy! I've been working out, and it's been successful. One thing I've been trying to focus on this offseason is nutrition and health. Gatorade has been a big part of that -- helping me with nutritionists. I'm excited about that -- coming in to this offseason in better health. Being in this league is all about longevity -- looking at guys like Ray Lewis, Tom Brady, Drew Brees - these guys have been in the league for years and years and years, and you ask yourself, 'Why?' Because they treat their bodies right. That's what it is.
SC: I talked to Panthers head coach Ron Rivera at the scouting combine, and he discussed several things about you -- your work ethic and adjustments to their playbook, and he mentioned that you probably exceeded their expectations, even though they took you first overall. How was that offense presented to you at first, and how was it expanded over time.
CN: The good part is -- [the offense] can be really scary to this league. When I say that, I mean that we haven't hit the pinnacle of where we want to go. That's in large part because of me connecting with [offensive coordinator Rob] Chudzinski, and [quarterbacks coach Dave] Shula. We've been communicating these past couple of weeks, going over film of last year. This offense has so much freedom, you can do in-game adjustments and adjustments as a whole. When you've got it, you've got it, and it can give defenses fits. When everybody on the offense gets on board, everything will be good to go.
SC: And you set all these passing records for rookies, but watching your tape -- it was as much the run game that seemed to give people fits. It reminded me a little of the Vick-era DVD Falcons -- teams were keying on the quarterback, and you'd run an option pitch, and everybody would go the wrong way.
CM: Right. I don't think we're trying to mimic anybody -- we're trying to pave our own way. But it's been successful in this league, and it's going to turn heads. Just as long as we focus on the Carolina Panthers -- offensively, defensively and on special teams -- we'll be good, We just need to worry about how we can execute on each play
SC: Looking back at your rookie season, what did you learn about the quarterback position that you didn't know before?
CM: I think it was the preparation. That's probably the most clichéd thing to say, but it was different then, and it's still different. This is really my first offseason because of the lockout, and it's like, what am I doing with my time? I could easily be out counting my change on the beach somewhere, eating honeybuns. I don't think Gatorade would approve of that, given the focus we have of trying to put the right things in my body. But this league gives you so much freedom, and it demands the professionalism out of everybody -- mentally and physically.
SC: I would imagine that you've talked to other NFL quarterbacks about the growth process. Are there one or two guys on other teams who have been especially helpful to you?
CM: There have been so many, and that's the thing I respect even more in this league -- it's like somewhat of a brotherhood. On certain days, you're trying to battle it out to win, but at the same time, everybody has interest in so many different people. From me being at the Pro Bowl with Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, to me picking up the phone and just calling whoever. It has been so helpful to me.
You can listen to the rest of the interview in podcast form below, where Cam talks about the schematic challenges inherent in the quarterback position in the NFL, how Steve Smith helped his transition, the vagaries of pre-draft scouting reports, what he thinks of the 2012 quarterback draft class, and much more!