Mag piece on Cam may be prophetic

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton is featured on the cover of ESPN the Magazine's latest edition, and this paragraph in the cover story struck me more than anything.

"Still, [wide receiver Steve] Smith constantly reminds Newton that his newly earned captaincy is 'just a patch with C on it,' and more than one of his teammates is quick to warn, 'This isn’t his team yet.' Says Newton: 'You've got to be a person who can adapt to any kind of situation. There are so many egos on all sides of the ball, and you have to be able to communicate with each and every one of those egos -- the offensive line, the wide receivers, the fullback, the running back. It’s about getting those guys to buy into you, to think, This is a guy I’d run through a brick wall for. This is the guy I’m going to risk everything I have for because I know he’s going to take this team to the promised land.'"

Ryan McGee and Carmen Thompson co-authored the piece. They focused on where the first pick of the 2011 draft is heading into his third season and his leadership.

Here's another paragraph that is telling:

"During his first two seasons, the alone time that Newton thought would be viewed as proof of his dedication was taken by teammates as his being aloof, condescending. He met with coaches one-on-one. He lifted weights by himself, usually in a room separate from the team. When clubhouse crowds gathered because Smith had thrown down one of his legendary dominoes challenges or because half a dozen guys were sitting around a table playing cards, their quarterback had his face buried in his iPad, Beats by Dre a-thumping. 'I’m extremely shy with people I don’t know,' he says. 'If I don’t know a guy or a female and they approach me, I’m going to put my shield up and try to feel them out. But I’m a loving person. If you crack that shell, then I'm all jokes and games.'"

With the Panthers 0-2 heading into Sunday's game against the 0-2 New York Giants, Newton's leadership remains in question. Smith said Monday on a Charlotte radio station that the quarterback is pressing.

The ESPN the Magazine headline -- "The Forgotten 1?'' -- may turn out to be prophetic.