Newton chosen as Rookie of the Year

Posted Jan. 18, 2012 @ 12:01 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

As the Panthers vetted the most intriguing talents in last year's draft, head coach Ron Rivera went into the review of Cam Newton's college career looking to find fault in his game, as he does with many prospects. The more he learned about Newton, the less there was to grapple with, and the Panthers selected him first overall.

It didn't take Rivera long to figure out that Newton — this year's PFW/Professional Football Writers of America Rookie of the Year — was actually his own harshest critic.

"There were times where he had to be brought up because he beat himself down so much," Rivera said "... He wants to be great. He really does. He has the right attitude about things. He's trying to learn and grow. It's rubbed some people wrong, but if you know him and understand him, you appreciate it."

Newton sparked the Panthers, who won only two games in the season before his arrival, to a 6-10 record and took the league by storm. He had back-to-back 400-yard passing games to start the season — he's the only rookie to do that — and established a rapport with veteran WR Steve Smith almost immediately.

"When you got two people that are out there investing the sweat and tears, it doesn't take very long to get on the same page," Smith said. "... We're two guys that are carved from the same rock."

Newton became the first player in league history to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for at least 500 yards in one season. He set an NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season, scoring 14, and threw for 21 TDs with 17 interceptions.

Newton's 2011 highlight reel is lengthy, but one of the moments that stands out most to Rivera took place off the field, when the rookie QB addressed his teammates at halftime of the Panthers' Week 15 game against the playoff-bound Texans.

"We had something like 14 out of 16 games that we led in," Rivera said. "When you're getting into that fourth quarter, for whatever reason we just didn't finish off. This was about finishing. This was about getting it done.

"It was impressive."

He picked his spots to speak up, but Newton delivered his most powerful message with his performance in 2011.

 

ALL-TIME WINNERS

Offensive Rookie of the Year

2011   QB Cam Newton / Car.
2010   QB Sam Bradford / St.L.
2009   WR Percy Harvin / Minn.
2008   QB Matt Ryan / Atl.
2007   RB Adrian Peterson / Minn.
2006   QB Vince Young / Ten.
2005   RB Cadillac Williams / T.B.
2004   QB Ben Roethlisberger / Pitt.
2003   WR Anquan Boldin / Ariz.
2002   RB Clinton Portis / Den.
2001   RB Anthony Thomas / Chi.
2000   RB Mike Anderson / Den.
1999   RB Edgerrin James / Ind.
1998   WR Randy Moss / Minn.
1997   RB Warrick Dunn / T.B.
1996   RB Eddie George / Hou.
1995   RB Curtis Martin / N.E.
1994   RB Marshall Faulk / Ind.
1993   RB Jerome Bettis / L.A. Rams
1992   PK Jason Hanson / Det.
1991   RB Leonard Russell / N.E.
1990   RB Emmitt Smith / Dall.
1989   RB Barry Sanders / Det.
1988   RB John Stephens / N.E.
          RB Ickey Woods / Cin.
1987   RB Troy Stradford / Mia.
1986   RB Rueben Mayes / N.O.
1985   No Award
1984   WR Louis Lipps / Pitt.
1983   RB Eric Dickerson / L.A. Rams
1982   RB Marcus Allen / L.A. Raiders
1981   RB George Rogers / N.O.
1980   RB Billy Sims / Det.
1979   RB Ottis Anderson / St.L.
1978   RB Earl Campbell / Hou.
1977   RB Tony Dorsett / Dall.
1976   WR Sammy White / Minn.
1975   QB Steve Bartkowski / Atl.
          RB Mike  Thomas / Wash.
1974   RB Don Woods / S.D.
1973   RB Chuck Foreman / Minn.
1972   RB Franco Harris / Pitt.
1971   QB Jim Plunkett / N.E.
1970   QB Dennis Shaw / Buff.
1969   RB Calvin Hill / Dall. (NFL)
          QB Greg Cook / Cin. (AFL)