Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be going to the Pro Bowl after all. Newton will replace Eli Manning, who will be leading the Giants against the New England Patriots in February's Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
Newton was unavailable for comment on Monday, but Panthers general manager Marty Hurney spoke on his behalf.
"It's obviously a tribute to him and says a lot about his work ethic and his approach to the game," Hurney said. But "it's not just one person, and Cam will certainly tell you that. A lot of people contributed to him reaching that goal. In this game, you are only as good as the people around you."
Newton, who was selected first overall in last year's draft, was the key component in Carolina's high-powered offense. The former Heisman Trophy winner was a human highlight reel during his rookie campaign, passing for more than 4,000 yards — the most ever by a rookie quarterback. This wasn't the only record Newton shattered in his first year as a pro. His 14 rushing touchdowns were the most ever by any NFL quarterback.
Newton's success was a key factor behind the Panthers' dramatic turnaround on offense from their abysmal 2-14 season in 2010. After ranking last in the NFL in total offense just one year ago, the Panthers made a dramatic improvement this season, finishing as the league's 7th best offense.
Carolina head coach Ron Rivera lobbied hard for Newton's selection to the Pro Bowl during the voting process, but he was selected as a first alternate behind Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, New Orleans' Drew Brees and Eli Manning.
"He set a standard, a very high standard for any rookie quarterback coming in, and he wants to improve," Rivera said. "He's gotten better in so many different areas. His basic fundamentals just continue to get better and better. He's got such a high ceiling."
Cam Newton is the first Panthers quarterback to make the Pro Bowl since Jake Delhomme in 2005.
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