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Newton, Kuechly share more than meets the eye

Posted Feb 3, 2016

In the ways that matter most, quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly are the same person for the Panthers.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – People often compare quarterback Cam Newton to Superman and linebacker Luke Kuechly to Clark Kent.

But despite the way Superman and Clark Kent look and act, people forget they're actually the same person when making the comparison.

"One is a little bit more colorful dresser and a little bit more vocal," head coach Ron Rivera said about his team's top two players as preparations for Super Bowl 50 continue. "Cam walks into a room, and he lights it up, where Luke kind of has this ability to just sneak in.

"They're kind of the yin and yang. They are opposites at times, but for the most part they're a lot more similar than people realize."

Indeed, beyond the surface stuff, Newton and Kuechly are actually hard to tell apart.

"They're both very competitive, ultra-competitive. They both want to win tremendously," Rivera said. "They're both very team-oriented, very goal-oriented. They put themselves last in a lot of situations. I don't think people think that, but from my experience being around these guys, talking to these guys, listening to these guys, they both put team first.

"Their commitment to whatever they do is tremendous. These are guys that are in the film room well after most guys are gone already. That's just who they are. They both work out tremendously hard and give their all in practices. Those are some tremendous similarities between them."

Newton and Kuechly, first-round draft choices in back-to-back seasons – Newton No. 1 overall in 2011, Kuechly No. 9 in 2012 – are the undeniable leaders on their respective sides of the ball. Both, when asked to recount plays they've made, always give credit to the role of others in the positive outcome.

But, perhaps because of Newton's celebrations after first downs and touchdowns – and because he has more chances for first downs and touchdowns than Kuechly – he's perceived by many as someone who craves attention. The reality is that Kuechly can be just as emotional as Newton, but it's often away from the ball. And, more often than Newton, it's actually a "negative" emotion displayed by Kuechly, who isn't shy about voicing his displeasure when the defense doesn't do its job on a given play.

There are fewer differences that truly matter between Newton and Kuechly than many people perceive, but the only thing that really makes a difference is this: They make their sides of the ball and thus the Carolina Panthers better.

In fact, they make the Panthers, well, Super.