When the Carolina Panthers drafted Will Grier with the 100th overall pick last week, it caused a bit of a stir throughout the fan base and on social media.
But really, all that matters is what starting quarterback Cam Newton thought of the move — and he shared his first comments on the subject with reporters in Atlanta on Thursday night while at the grand opening of his cigar bar/restaurant concept, Fellaship.
“A lot of people...would think that I feel intimidated,” Newton laughed. “And that’s not the case here.
“I reached out to Will, and I actually saw him play in high school (at Davidson Day) with him being in Charlotte. And I’m just excited. Like I said, for him to come on a team that I know he possesses a rare talent, and I’m excited...It’s my job to put myself and my team in the best situation, and get everybody ready....I want to make sure that I’m (the) best teammate and my best self for everyone.”
Newton had technically already weighed in on social media under the Panthers’ Instagram post of the selection of Grier in the third round, with his signature “love” hand symbol.
Grier’s selection has been a hot topic on Charlotte sports radio and on social media since he was drafted last week.
Some fans thought it was an affront to Newton, who has been the face of the franchise since his No. 1 overall selection in 2011. Others were surprised the Panthers had not drafted a quarterback since then, despite clearly needing a steady backup. Still others voiced their support for Grier, a Charlotte-area native who played at West Virginia.
And many — including head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney — simply felt that adding a reliable backup for Newton was a prudent decision.
“This has nothing to do with Cam Newton,” said Hurney, during a press conference after the third round of the NFL draft last week. “Cam Newton is our starting quarterback and franchise quarterback. This is just about bringing in young guys to develop and depth.”
Grier will compete with Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke through spring workouts and training camp for the backup position.
But rookie camp doesn’t start until May 10. So this week, Grier played in the Wells Fargo Championship Pro-Am with his uncle at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.
“You do what is best for the team in all aspects,” Grier told reporters at the pro-am about preparing to compete for the role. “That’s really what I am here to do is to support Cam and be there for him and push him and make him better and be there for anything he needs. But also, my job is to be ready to go when my name is called.”
Chad Grier, Will’s father, weighed in on Newton’s comments on Twitter on Thursday night, calling Newton “first class.”