Newton hospital visit lifts high school QB


CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There's not enough time in the week for Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to fulfill all the requests he gets to visit people in the hospital.

But in the case of Jaylend Ratliffe, he made an exception.

Ratliffe, a senior quarterback at Laurinburg (N.C.) Scotland High School, recently had brain surgery after suffering a fractured skull in a July 30 ATV accident.

Newton visited the player, who has committed to Georgia Tech, on Tuesday.

"I didn't know what to expect walking into the room,'' Newton said following Thursday's practice. "And whether he knows it or not, his day brightened my day with me seeing him and seeing his attitude.''

Ratliffe's football future is uncertain, although Georgia Tech announced it plans to honor the scholarship commitment. He was put into a medically induced coma to reduce swelling in the brain and was on a ventilator for a week.

"For him to have gone through everything he has gone through, my talk to him was if you can make it through this, the sky's the limit,'' Newton said. "He's motivated me to not complain, not to bicker, not to take anything for granted. But accept each and every day and make the most of it.''

Newton spent about an hour with Ratliffe. Scotland coach Richard Bailey told the Atlanta Journal Constitution the visit "really seemed to bolster his spirits.''

Newton did this while preparing for Friday night's exhibition game at New England and continuing twice-a-day treatment on his left ankle that was surgically repaired in March.

"It's not the first time,'' Carolina coach Ron Rivera said of Newton taking time out of his hectic schedule for such a visit. "It's funny, because a lot of people reach out to him for things like that. When he has the time, when he's available, he'll do it. It's true for a lot of our guys and it's true for a lot of guys in the league.''