If it hasn’t been clear all preseason, it should be now. Cam Newton does not care to talk about Super Bowl 50.
He doesn’t want to talk about his preparation for the game. He certainly doesn’t want to talk about the fumbles. He won’t even say how much of the Super Bowl he has rewatched in the days leading up to another meeting against the Broncos.
“That’s a personal question,” Newton said. “But we will be prepared to go on Thursday.”
Long a complex character who’s gotten even more complex in the months since the Super Bowl loss, Newton spoke mostly in vague generalities to the media Sunday afternoon about the Denver game.
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He can’t “look back or dwell on the past” because he’s so focused on this game, but he also wonders aloud why it matters where his game is at this point, three days before the game.
Newton seemed to contradict himself again later. After repeating how this game against Denver is simply an opportunity to go 1-0, and that his only thought when he saw the schedule was that the Panthers would play the Broncos on a Thursday night, Newton opened to the idea of what a good performance this week could mean for him.
“This is what you dream about as kids,” he said. “I know I can’t speak for a lot of people but we all have dreamed playing in front of primetime football. And just to think about it, this is the type of game that you pretty much set your legacy.
“But we’re not thinking personally or selfishly about that. We’re trying to maximize this team that we’re on. We have a lot of talent. They have a lot of talent.”
Thursday night’s game is no rematch, and no one on either side seems to be treating it as such. A win won’t erase Newton’s 18-for-41 passing night in February that saw him turn the ball over three times and convert 20 percent of third downs.
This game comes after a span of seven months where the Broncos and outside linebacker Von Miller were able to take some digs at Newton’s expense.
Miller posted a photoshopped image of Newton playing water polo with Miller stripping him of that ball like he had done twice in the Super Bowl. Newton responded on his own Instagram a day later saying he was looking for revenge.
Both say they have mutual respect for one another, and Miller went so far as to call Newton, the league’s reigning MVP, the best player in the NFL.
“The type of player that he is, the type of quarterback that he is, the way that he’s able to get his teammates to play at a level that they normally wouldn’t play at, I admire him,” Miller said on a teleconference Sunday. “If I had sons and they wanted to be quarterbacks, I point them in the way and direction of Cam Newton and Peyton Manning. I think that’s where the poking and the fun for me comes from because I really do admire him and really do respect the hell out of his game.”
Newton and the Panthers regularly say that, when playing at their best, they’re good enough to win every game. Their best was clearly not on display in Santa Clara, but Newton is confident he’ll have it Thursday in Denver.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he’s interested to see what kind of chip Newton plays with.
“He knows that this is the big stage,” Rivera said. “It’s probably one of the biggest stages that we’ll be on as a football team. If there’s one thing he wants to do, he has an opportunity to play well and show what he’s made of and go from there.”
At heart, Newton is a showman. That was clear last year as he danced and dabbed his way to a 15-1 record and Super Bowl appearance.
As a showman, he’s not going to give away too much before the big reveal Thursday.
Asked how he’s gotten better from the Super Bowl to now, Newton said “You’ll just have to see.”