CHARLOTTE – Quarterback Cam Newton, guard Trai Turner and the Carolina Panthers are featured on the latest cover of Sports Illustrated with a headline that reads, "Lights, Cam, Action."
Newton has been there, done that before, but a spot on the cover after Super Bowl 50 would be uncharted territory for him and the Panthers.
"None of that in November is really important," Newton said. "We want to be relevant come January, February. That's really what our eyes are on while making the most out of our journey.
"Thursday is another challenge for us to showcase what we've been working so hard for so many years."
After being featured on one of the most iconic spaces in sports media landscape, the Panthers are set to compete in one of the most hallowed spots on the sports calendar. Carolina is preparing to play on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in franchise history, opposite the Dallas Cowboys.
The Panthers became the 16th team in the Super Bowl era to start the season 10-0 with Sunday's victory over Washington, a game in which Newton tossed a career-high five touchdown passes to become the first player in NFL history with 100 touchdown passes (he has 102) and 25 rushing touchdowns (he has 39) in his first five seasons.
In his press conference after the game, Newton called it an honor to play on Thanksgiving but also referenced the challenge posed by the short turnaround and the late night of game preparation it required. Tuesday, getting ready for the game trumped any hype surrounding the game or the Panthers' remarkable run this season.
"We know it's going to be on a national stage, but it's just another game," Newton said. "It's all about preparation. Games like this go to the team that is prepared the most and more ready for the moment.
"We've been having great meetings, great practices and great walkthroughs. Hopefully it all carries over to game day."