"I look on social media every now and then, and I see all these memes with the New Year's resolution, ‘New year, new me,' " Newton said. "My meme is going to be new year, same me."
Newton says he stays grounded thanks to the positive influences he surrounds himself with on and off the field, though he did admit that fatherhood has been an uplifting experience. On Christmas Eve, his longtime girlfriend gave birth to a boy who weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces and measured 20 inches.
"He can dunk," Newton joked. "It's pretty cool. All fathers can speak on seeing life come into existence. It's a wonderful thing. These past couple of days have been so monumental for me.
"I took him out for a jog yesterday; he was running alongside me. He has a couple of scholarship offers already on the table."
The birth came as a newsflash to most but not to those closest to Newton, making it easy for him to maintain his focus on football as the Panthers prepare for their first game following a loss all season. The regular season finale, Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, brings with it the opportunity to claim homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
"For the most part nothing has changed besides our record. The focus is still the same – finding ways to become 1-0," said Newton, who was downtrodden following last Sunday's loss in his hometown of Atlanta. "You saw a lethargic team out there that was kind of waiting on somebody else to make plays. That hasn't been our M.O.
"I guarantee you're going to see a lot of guys geared up and ready to go, trying to eliminate that from happening again."
Asked what he planned to do to ring in the new year, Newton said, "Burping."
That's more of the same old brand of humor from Newton, though he certainly doesn't consider his newest responsibility to be a joking matter.
"I think every man should be able to have that father figure in my life," said Newton, adding he intended to be the same dad to his child that his father has been to him. "When I grew up, there weren't a lot of people who had men in their lives. Sometimes I thought my father was too hard on us – my mom can attest to that – but now that I am lucky enough to have a son, I'm going to be the same way.