When Charlotte’s minor league hockey team, the Checkers, takes the ice Thursday against the Hershey Bears, they’ll be wearing jerseys designed by one of the last people you’d expect: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
It could be a first in the nation, as far as a cross promotion between a top NFL athlete and a minor league hockey team, according to Charlotte Checkers officials.
The jerseys also represent one of rarest bits of sports memorabilia to be had in the NFL.
They will be worn only one night, then put up for auction to the highest bidder in attendance. At least one jersey signed by Newton will be auctioned off. The money raised will go to the Cam Newton Foundation’s programs for children. Newton is expected to attend the game with a handful of guests of his foundation. (Each Checkers player will autograph the jersey that player wore in the game.)
Never miss a local story.
It was the Checkers’ idea.
“Like everyone else, we noticed Cam’s unique fashion sense and the general public’s interest in it,” said Checkers Chief Operating Officer Tera Black.
“We were already looking to do a Carolina Football Night … and thought he might be interested in the chance to design his own hockey jersey. We’d never heard of an athlete designing a jersey before, so that and the crossing of the two sports should make it a very unique promotion.”
Newton’s affinity for flashy clothing is well known, including unusual hats, garments with unusual patterns and one-of-a-kind shoes, such as his infamous purple velvet cleats with white ruffles. (The cleats, worn to a pregame practice, were in honor of Prince.)
The Checkers say they took Newton’s fashion reputation into account and were ready for anything.
“We were definitely prepared for the possibility that his design would turn some heads,” Black said. “In the end, we think the result is a one-of-a kind jersey that both his fans and our fans will enjoy.”
Kimberly Beal, director of the Cam Newton Foundation, said Newton loved the idea from the start. He worked with a creative design agency, Go Uncharted, to design the jerseys, offering broad direction and ideas for emblems and language he wanted to include. Multiple options were considered, Beal said.
“He was very hands-on,” Beal said of Newton’s design work. “It was a big deal for him. He liked the idea of being able to put his stamp on something for a hockey team, which is not at all traditional, like football and basketball jerseys. He really enjoyed it.”
Want a jersey?
During Thursday night’s game against the Hershey Bears, the entire Checkers team will wear Cam Newton Foundation jerseys that the NFL quarterback helped design. The game starts at 7 p.m. at Bojangles Coliseum. Tickets are available starting at $18.35. To buy tickets in advance, visit Ticketmaster.com.
Immediately following the game, the jerseys will be sold in a live auction with proceeds benefiting the Cam Newton Foundation. Bidders will be seated in the stands, and one by one Checkers players will come out with the jerseys they just wore during the game. Fans will bid while the player is there waiting, and the player can then pose for a photo and sign the jersey if asked.
Started in 2012, the Cam Newton Foundation serves as Cam’s charitable platform and supports strategic initiatives, programs and events in the Charlotte and Atlanta communities. The CNF operates under the mantra “EVERY 1 MATTERS.” The Foundation platforms are:
- EVERY 1 LEARNS: Enhancing youth education and academics.
- EVERY 1 PLAYS: Highlighting the importance of physical fitness, nutrition and health in youth.
- EVERY 1 GIVES: Fostering holiday outreach and community service.