CBS Sports analyst Tony Gonzalez is a big fan of Cam Newton now, but he wasn’t too fond of the Panthers quarterback when the two played together in the Pro Bowl in 2011.
“He was kind of standoffish a little bit, maybe I’d say a little immature,” said Gonzalez, a former standout NFL tight end for 17 years.
In what way?
“As soon as the camera lights were on, he was ‘Aaaaay!’ and as soon as they were off, he was off in the corner,” Gonzalez said. “And I don’t think it was a bad thing. He was young. It was his first Pro Bowl. And I remember he came out and he had on these flashy boots and doing all this stuff that Cam does. ... I don’t think it was a case where he thought he was better than us, not talking to us. I think it was he was shy, maybe a little intimidated.”
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Gonzalez emphasized he believes Newton has grown since that experience, that he believed Newton was unquestionably the NFL’s MVP this season and that a fondness for the spotlight could be a good thing.
Continued Gonzalez about Newton: “You know him. He likes the lights, and that’s not different from a lot of players. ... People love the cameras – the Ray Lewises, all those guys. ... That’s performance time and he’s a total performer. ... I don’t have a problem with it at all. He’s the best player in the league this year and he’s proven it. He’s amazing, and I would like to think he could keep doing it for next couple of years.”
▪ I didn’t know this until this week: The reason Ted Ginn wears No. 19 is that it stands for the round he was drafted (first) and the overall pick he was in the 2007 draft (ninth).
▪ With two weeks between games, the Carolina Panthers have been killing time. One way they have found is very old-school – Ping-Pong.
There is a spot for table tennis set up in a room in a players lounge at their San Jose Marriott hotel. The early champion? Tight end Greg Olsen.
“I just started taking on all comers,” Olsen said. “You’ll have to ask the others how I did.”
“Greg won about 10 games in a row,” wide receiver Ted Ginn said. “And then ...”
Olsen had already beaten reserve wide receiver Kevin Norwood twice when – just before the Panthers were supposed to leave for their daily interview session – Norwood asked for a rematch.
“OK, I lost one game,” Olsen said. “But it was only because I was rushed.”
Countered Norwood: “Oh, he was rushed?” (At this point, Norwood made air quotes around the word ‘rushed’ with his fingers). “Well, even before he was ‘rushed,’ the score was something like 14-13. Then I just beat him.”
Ginn said that Olsen was aching to get back on top.
“All he wants to do is go back to the hotel and reclaim his championship,” Ginn said.
Well, that’s probably not all Olsen wants to do on this trip, but I understand what Ginn is saying.
▪ Watch out, Jennifer Roberts. Safety Roman Harper said this of linebacker Thomas Davis: “TD, man – an amazing guy. I call him ‘Mr. North Carolina.’ I mean he can run for mayor and win easily.”