Inside the Panthers

Panthers QB Cam Newton featured on Sports Illustrated cover

The Carolina Panthers have landed the national cover of Sports Illustrated for the first time since 2005.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton – and right guard Trai Turner – are featured on the prestigious front cover from a photograph taken during last week’s home game against Washington.

SI senior writer Austin Murphy, who had been in Charlotte twice in two weeks, wrote the story.

“The dab, the stanky leg, the whip and the nae nae ... Cam Newton is dancing his way into MVP contention,” Murphy writes in the piece, which has not yet been published online. “And if you don’t like all the fun he’s having? You can take your inferior record and go home.”

Quarterback Jake Delhomme last graced the cover for the Panthers in 2005 for SI’s 2005 NFL preview. Carolina went 11-5 that season and lost in the NFC Championship Game.

The Panthers are 10-0 heading into Thursday’s game at Dallas. There has long been a theory of an SI cover jinx, which involves the team or person featured on the cover losing the next sporting event in which they play.

But perhaps Newton is immune to the jinx? This is the fourth time he’s been on the cover.

He appeared on the SI cover twice while at Auburn en route to a 14-0 national championship season, and following a spring appearance in the NFL draft preview edition, Newton was drafted No. 1 by the Panthers.

Five years later, that cover has become comical. Newton is flanked by Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert, and choosing among them at No. 1 is referred to as the “toughest call in football.”

Locker is out of football and Gabbert is 6-23 as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Jonathan Jones: 704-358-5323, @jjones9