Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is 0-2 all-time against Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, but he’s hoping to get a victory this week.
Newton and Sherman are the final pairing in the Madden ’15 video game cover vote, and Newton called out Sherman in a 2 1/2-minute video posted to YouTube on Monday.
Newton, who’s in the finals of the cover vote for the second time in three years, challenges Sherman to a game of Madden by asking him to call a phony hotline called “CAM PAIN.”
“Richard Sherman, I want to challenge you in a game of Madden,” Newton says in the video. “If you don’t want to play me, that is cool and that’s understandable, because these thumbs are official.”
Newton is back in the finals after edging Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck in a 55-45 semifinals vote. Sherman topped fellow NFC West rival Colin Kaepernick 65-35 last week. Fans can vote until Friday for Newton or Sherman at ESPN.com/maddenvote, and the two will appear in a SportsCenter segment at 6 p.m. Friday, when the winner will be announced.
After his 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year season, Newton went to the finals of the cover vote against Calvin Johnson but ultimately lost to the Lions receiver, who’s considered the best at his position in the league.
A 12-4 year that saw the Panthers go to the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season has Newton back in the finals, but his competition is just as stiff.
Sherman is considered by many football observers, including himself, to be the best cornerback in the NFL. A recent contract extension shows Seattle values him as the top corner in the league after the Seahawks gave him a four-year deal worth up to $57.4 million.
In terms of popularity, Sherman’s name is one of the hottest in the NFL. His propensity to be brash – and backing it up on the field – has earned him a reputation as one of the biggest trash talkers in the league. Newton’s playful video – one that resembles a professional wrestling promo – gets at that brashness.
“I’m the best gamer in the league, and when you try me with sorry gamers like that, that’s the result you get,” Newton says at the beginning of his video, parodying Sherman’s famous post-NFC Championship interview with Erin Andrews.
Additionally, Newton and Sherman were two of the six NFL players who attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last month.
While being on the cover of Madden would be a huge brand boost for Newton, it would be understandable if the Panthers are wary. The Madden Curse has claimed a majority of those who have graced the cover since 1999.
More times than not, players who have appeared on the Madden cover have turned in below-average seasons or suffered serious injury. Garrison Hearst broke his ankle after the ’99 cover, Michael Vick broke his leg after the ’04 cover and Troy Polamalu tore his MCL after the 2010 cover, among several other examples.
Newton is coming off March ankle surgery that tightened up ligaments. He’s been at Panthers organized team activities but has not participated in any drills. The initial timetable for Newton’s return to practice was late July, just in time for training camp.
Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9
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