- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
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"First off, I don't want to be compared to no other quarterback,'' the Carolina Panthers quarterback said when asked about the parallels between his career and his counterpart from St. Louis. "No disrespect to Sam Bradford. I just feel as if I'm my own player.
"We all have challenges in itself as a quarterback in this NFL. Nothing's perfect. No matter if you're playing lights out like Peyton Manning, you still have issues that have to be taken care of.''
That was going to be the point before Newton stopped the comparison. Both he and Bradford, the No. 1 picks of the 2011 and 2010 NFL draft, respectively, have had issues ranging from a lack of weapons, consistent offensive line play and changes in coordinators that have played a role in them falling short of expectations.
Both also appear on the brink of turning things around as they prepare to meet in Sunday's 1 p.m. game in Charlotte.
Bradford is coming off a three-touchdown pass performance in which his rating was 134.6. The Rams are 3-3 and there's optimism they can return to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
Newton is coming off a three-touchdown pass performance in which his rating was a career-high 143.4. The Panthers are 2-3, the first time they've won two of their first five games in four years.
Newton's overall passer rating of 89.4 ranks 14th in the league. Bradford is 11th at 90.7.
Newton ranks third in the NFL in third-down passing with a 111.6 rating. He trails only Manning (128.5) and Tennessee's Jake Locker (111.8).
So that's the good news. The bad news is what Newton and Bradford have in common that led to this line of questioning. Newton chose not to address them, but they are worth taking a look at.
Let's start with their records. Bradford has won 37.2 percent of his games (19-31-1). Newton has won 40.5 percent (15-22) of his.
Neither has a particularly stellar completion percentage, Bradford 58.4 and Newton 59.1. Their passer ratings aren't great either, Bradford 79.1 and Newton 85.9.
To put that into perspective, future Hall of Famer Manning has a career rating of 96.7 and he's at 128.8 this season.
But remember, Manning had a rating of 71.2 as a rookie when Indianapolis went 3-13 and 84.1 in his fourth season when the Colts were 6-10. It wasn't until his fifth season that he had all the pieces around him that made him and Indianapolis consistent winners.
There were issues that he had to deal with. There are issues Newton and Bradford are dealing with, which brings us to Sunday's game.
"So obviously with this game ahead, I have something to prove,'' Newton said. "Most importantly, not to be selfish, it's going to take a team effort to get this win, no matter what the similarities are in quarterbacks or what their records are.''
Off the field. There is one area in which Newton beats Bradford hands down -- the Repucom Celebrity DBI that quantifies and qualifies consumer perception of celebrities.
In the eight categories -- awareness, appeal, aspiration, breakthrough, endorsement, influence, trend-setter and trust -- Newton beat Bradford everywhere but appeal. In terms of awareness he has an overwhelming edge, 41 percent to 24 percent.
As a trend-setter, Newton with his own clothing line ranks 576 out of 3,127. That's higher than New England quarterback Tom Brady (728).
So despite on-the-field struggles, Newton continues to flourish off the field.
But as Newton reminded, he doesn't want to be compared to other quarterbacks. He just wants to be known as a winner.
7hEric D. Williams