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Newton, Panthers try to forget football


"In this profession, they don't see you as Cameron Newton. They just see you as Cam Newton."

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton doesn't have split personalities, but he does have to deal with a divide like most public figures.

Sunday after Sunday, fans peer at Newton the football player between the white lines as he practices his chosen profession to both cheers and jeers.

But this Sunday, when the Panthers have their bye, fans won't see Newton the son, Newton the brother, Newton the man away from the football field.

"This is a great opportunity for me to go back and spend some time with my family, to check out my little brother playing football, to just enjoy life," Newton said.

For one Sunday, Newton will do his best to tune out the noise, to leave the criticism – be it the constructive kind or the destructive kind – behind at Bank of America Stadium.

Same goes for Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, who has planned a family weekend that will include a chance to watch his daughter on the softball diamond. And for defensive end Charles Johnson, who plans to put his feet in the sand rather than the turf.

At times, we all need to get away from it all, and the Panthers undoubtedly will enjoy parts of their wayward weekend. But, try as they might, it's doubtful that they'll be able to put the 1-4 start to the season completely out of their minds.

"It comes down to this: We're a great football team that's capable of winning way more football games than we have won. Everybody knows that, and I think we've let a lot of people down in this community, in our fan base," Newton said.

"Our potential is still through the roof, but I've said this before and I'll say it again: Potential has never won a football game. We've got to take it on ourselves to be more accountable and execute each and every opportunity we get."

Before his weekend away, Newton took himself to task, studying film and questioning himself about the season to date. He agrees with Rivera's statement earlier in the week that he has pressed at times – "I think we all have been pressing," he said. But he couldn't disagree more with those who suggest the Panthers' season is dead in the water.

"We have an opportunity to still obtain every single thing that we want to obtain," Newton said. "Yes, the reality is we're 1-4. Are we happy about it? Absolutely not.

"But the warriors that I know we have on this team are going to continuously challenge themselves to come out and get better each and every day."

Fans will never know Newton on a personal level the way they know him on the professional level, but for Newton himself, the two obviously are inseparable. Sure, he can try to put football out of his mind for 72 hours during the bye weekend, but he won't fully succeed.

It would be the same story if the Panthers were 4-1 rather than 1-4. What would be different is how the public perceives Newton.

When the bye week is over, Newton will get back to trying to turn the Panthers around, but it won't be for the sake of his public perception. It will be for the sake of everyone involved.

"When you start losing, people put two microscopes on you," Newton said. "If you change one statistic – if you start winning – even if you play the same game, people will overlook those things.

"I know who I am and know what got me to this point, and I'm just going to continue to trust God and leap out on faith and know what's in store for me. Of course we're going through trying times as a whole team right now, but trust me when I tell you this: Things will get better. There's a brighter day. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. That's the good thing."

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