Cam Newton’s dream season didn’t need validation from anyone else, but when it comes to a close tomorrow in his Super Bowl debut, it will include what everyone already suspected and the NFL just made official: Cam Newton is the Most Valuable Player in the NFL. The announcement came at the 5th Annual NFL Honors Award Show, a star-studded event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Newton himself was not in attendance for obvious reasons.
The Panthers didn’t lose a game until Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. They finished the year 15-1 thanks to a stout defense and Newton’s finest year as a pro. During the regular season, Newton threw for 3,837 yards and set a career high with 35 touchdowns. He threw only 10 interceptions, a career low, and he ran for 636 yards and 10 more touchdowns, tying Steve Young’s all-time record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
Newton is the first quarterback in NFL history to post 35 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in the same season.
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His accuracy and quick delivery of the football turned a group of receivers who looked to be in trouble—given the loss of Kelvin Benjamin after he tore his ACL during training camp—into some of the best targets in the league. Tight end Greg Olsen set career highs in both receiving yards and touchdowns. And Newton was a terror orchestrating head coach Ron Rivera’s read-option, keeping defenses guessing about who would be keeping the ball on all running plays.
Newton’s work began far in advance of the 2015 season. He put in long hours in the gym and on the field before the Panthers’ training camp even began. Ted Ginn Jr. and Olsen often joined him, developing a rhythm with their QB that showed up on the field every Sunday.
“Everything I’m doing is based on trying to win,” Newton told STACK. “There’s no hidden secret to why I do the things I do.”
Newton may earn the ultimate icing on the cake if he dispatches Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 and becomes a world champion. But he has already shown the world how outstanding he can be, and now he has the MVP trophy to cement his proof.