Panther Tracks

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith: maybe it’s time to lay off Panthers QB Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs off the field after the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA, Sunday. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith came to Newton’s defense Friday on his national show.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) runs off the field after the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA, Sunday. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith came to Newton’s defense Friday on his national show. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Panthers QB Cam Newton has taken a beating in the national media and on local talk radio following tie-gate in Seattle and Carolina nose-diving to 4-8 after a Super Bowl run a year ago.

But Ace Boogie, as Newton loves to call himself, seems to have a friend in ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith.

Smith spoke about the Panthers quarterback during the final segment of his nationally televised “First Take” program Friday morning.

“I find myself a bit hesitant,” Smith said, “to come to the defense of an individual who threw for 35 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions last year, leading the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 record and ultimately a berth in the Super Bowl to only find himself at (4-8) this year, having just 14 (touchdown passes), compared to the 35 last year. But I do feel compelled to come to the defense of Cam Newton.”

Smith said Newton hasn’t really done anything wrong. He said Newton plays hard, but is guilty of trying to please too many people.

“As one of the pre-imminent superstars in the game, despite the struggles he’s had this year, doesn’t he deserve some credit for trying?,” Smith said. “He’s not getting in trouble with the law. He’s handling his business to the best of his ability. He’s taken a shrapnel of criticism for something I believe (Panthers general manager) Dave Gettleman deserves more than anybody else because he’s the one that reneged on an offer that he made to Josh Norman and let him walk away, knowing...he did not have anybody to replace Josh Norman.

“And Cam Newton, the face of the franchise, has been left to stomach all of that. But in throws of all that, in the face of all that criticism, what does he do? He comes out there and tries...the best he can while appeasing so many others. Perhaps we should take a step back and appreciate him for his effort in that regard instead of condemning him for it, knowing he has so much more of a career to look forward to.”

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