CHARLOTTE – Cam Newton couldn't stop smiling. The same could be said for head coach Ron Rivera. And general manager Dave Gettleman. And anyone else who walked into the room.
Tuesday was a day of celebration at Bank of America Stadium.
Newton signed a five-year extension with the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2011, keeping him under contract until 2020.
"Looks like you're stuck with me," Cam said with a smile as he signed on the dotted line.
The Panthers wouldn't want it any other way.
Newton spoke exclusively with Panthers.com moments after signing. The magnitude of the moment was still setting and his comments are below.
On how he feels now that it's official
"It's surreal right now to have this opportunity. It's very exciting. This is the place I wanted to be. It was eventually going to happen and now that it's over, it puts me at ease in one sense but also makes me accelerate my maturation to becoming what I know I can become. That's not putting too much on myself.
"Mr. Richardson, Mr. Gettleman, coach Rivera, they all said the same thing – this changes nothing about my role. And I didn't want anything to change about it. It just solidifies who I am for this team and puts me in a great place."
On being tied to the Panthers for the long term
"It's great, just an unbelievable feeling. And what better place than the Carolinas? The time is now for us to seize the moment. Nothing is going to be given to us and it's going to be on us to dictate our destiny and make the most of it."
On overcoming personal adversity to reach this point
"It's a credit to hard work. And I'll tell you this – it's also the belief in others. Because I didn't get here just because of the things that I've done. I got here because of the people I trusted, the people who were influential in my life and me listening to them. When you have that, success is bound to happen."
How his first four years in the NFL have prepared for the next stage of his career
"So much of me being in Carolina has prepped me for this moment. Nothing has changed. My drive, my mentality is still yearning to get the Carolina Panthers their first Super Bowl ring. It's up to us to bridge that gap together and make it happen."
On what the Panthers family means to him
"So much of Carolina is Cam and so much of Cam is Carolina. This is something that I will forever be grateful for. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity Mr. Richardson gave me to represent this organization. They believe in me. This puts a lot into perspective, and I will not take anything for granted. I know my influence, and this is going to solidify what I have to do not only for myself and the people who share my last name, but also my teammates, coaches, fans – everybody has an impact on this. That's what makes it so great to be a Carolina Panther."
On the magnitude of this moment
"I had so many sleepless nights, so many nights where I cried myself to sleep in my younger days. Why am I doing this? Why am I not having success? Perseverance pays. I didn't do this by myself. I couldn't have. Somebody was looking out for me and my best interests. I'll always be thankful."