Cam Newton takes to Twitter to announce birth of son

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton's "rocking the baby" dance last Sunday against the Falcons now has some context.

Newton announced on Twitter on Wednesday night that he and his longtime girlfriend, Kia, were "blessed'' with a son last week.

Newton left practice on Christmas Eve early to handle what coach Ron Rivera called a family issue that wasn't negative.

The baby was born on Christmas Eve, according to sources.

Newton performed a cradling move to celebrate his first-quarter touchdown run in Sunday's 20-13 loss to Atlanta, the team's first loss after a 14-0 start. After the game he declined to elaborate on the significance of the move.

Newton said on Twitter that he kept quiet about the pregnancy because he didn't want to create a distraction for the team.

Newton is a leading candidate to win the NFL's Most Valuable Player Award. He has a career-high 33 touchdown passes and rushed for eight.

At 14-1, the Panthers need a home win over reeling Tampa Bay to guarantee the No. 1 seed.