You remember that car, dont you?
You loved it once. It got you where you needed to go. You still have nostalgic memories of it now.
For Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, that well-loved car is his body and right now hes frustrated with it.
In a freewheeling press conference Thursday about the series of injuries that have threatened to keep him out of Sundays season opener at Tampa Bay, Newton said of his body: Its kind of like that old faithful car. You fix the A/C; now the carburetors out. Then you fix the carburetor; youve got a flat tire. You fix the flat tire; now your windshield wipers dont work.
Its frustrating because you know its a good car, Newton continued. This car has got you to this point. And now its like every single thing is happening. And the thing is, you keep messing the car up not even driving it.
Newton has never missed a real game at any level because of injury, and I still dont think he will miss Sundays game.
But that possibility is now on the table. Last week, Newton said there was no doubt he would play in Tampa. Now he is hedging his bets a little, talking about how he doesnt want to jeopardize the team or his own future by rushing his way back from fractured ribs. A decision likely wont be made until game day, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.
Here is my totally unscientific reasoning as to why Newton is going to play Sunday despite the ribs and the offseason ankle surgery he feels good, or at least good enough.
Newton was his normal playful self on Thursday pretending to hide from a photographer behind a blocking sled and screaming out Luke Kuechlys middle name during Kuechlys interview session. (A-u-u-u-u-gust!)
Newton also continued his car analogy when someone asked what make and model his body would be.
A 2020 Ferrari, Newton said. But still, it got called back to the factory because it did have some (things wrong). But if we can fix those things, man ... Newton whistled in admiration.
I think Newton was happy because he is feeling better as it gets later in the week. The quarterback said Thursday he was on pace to play. When asked what might disrupt that pace, he said: Maybe walking home and somebody wants to mob me or something like that. Getting hit by a car. Running away from a tiger. Theres a lot of things.
If Newton keeps away from circuses and texting drivers, though, I think hes playing Sunday. Certainly Tampa Bay believes he will play.
Lets think about the alternatives for a second, though, if he doesnt play. Backup quarterback Derek Anderson is good enough to win the Tampa game under the right circumstances. Third-stringer Joe Webb doesnt know the offense as well but had a good August.
Newton can and will manage the pain if at all possible, though and there has been some serious pain. As he said Thursday: Anyone who has ever had fractured ribs knows: Its hard to sleep. Its hard to make sudden moves. Its hard to breathe. Its hard to cough. Its hard to sneeze.
Its also hard to throw a football. Not to throw it once, but to throw it over and over, with the velocity an NFL quarterback has to have. The normally candid Rivera wouldnt even say whether Newton threw the ball in practice Thursday. Newton only handed off during the portion that reporters saw. Thats how coy the Panthers are playing this.
But I think the old car starts up one more time on Sunday. The windshield wipers may still not be working. But it still runs.
Fowler: email@example.com; Twitter: @scott_fowler
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