Cam Newton Dishes on Dreams and The Challenges That Shaped Him

I recently sat down with Carolina Panthers quarterback and NFL MVP Cam Newton at the Gatorade Player of the Year awards in Los Angeles. We dug past the football stats, talked about key components in his journey to get to where he is today, the biggest challenge in his life right now, and the best advice to fellow dreamers. If you take anything away from our interview, I hope you pay special attention to what he said in regards to his journey being riddled with footnotes, and what he discussed regarding his time at Blinn Junior College, and how he addressed fame and success. 

The interview with Newton felt so fitting with the night’s inspiring theme, where Gatorade honors and celebrates 12 outstanding high school athletes for not just

their athletic talent, but also academic achievement, and character displayed on and off the field.

NFL Network named you as the top player in the league. Now that we are here in a room full of high school athletes, what do you think 18-year-old Cam would say?

“Man, now that I think back, I had no clue. My favorite question to ask athletes, whether that’s professional or high school, is, is it what you expected? Because, so much of who I am today came with so many footnotes, that when you look at the big picture, and you see success, you see fame, you see fortune, you see this, you see that, but the responsibility part, a lot of people don’t grasp. So, when I was 18, all I wanted was to see myself on ESPN, all I wanted was to see myself in Sports Illustrated, to see myself on a Gatorade bottle. I don’t know how, but I was just hoping and praying to God that it happened.”

Well, I think it's safe to say 18-year-old Cam would be proud. 

Speaking of the footnotes, there are so many chapters in Newton’s journey, but one I wanted to highlight was his time at Blinn Junior College in Brenham, TX. I wanted to highlight this chapter specifically because Newton has previously referred to this time as his “resurrection.” With all great dreamers, there are always chapters that shape you, ones that are far from glamorous, and riddled with fear and doubt. It's these chapters that we don't talk about enough, but are vital to success.

The 27-year-old previously told ESPN about his time at Blinn, "I think I went through so many stages mentally.” It’s been my experience these chapters are the most important to building a strong foundation, and Newton told the network, "I went through a miserable time as far as me being humbled. I went through a period where I was devastated and depressed. I didn't know where my career was going and if I wanted to play football anymore. I think that was really my resurrection."

A footnote I wanted to hit on is while you were at Blinn your coach gave you a book, and then you guys would meet to talk about it. How did that “Leadership Is An Art” shape you into who you are today?

Newton admits he’s more of a newspaper reader, “But, with that book it was very impactful, because it taught me things of how to, I don’t want to say become a man, but just master some of the nuances of being a man. From making eye contact when you’re talking to somebody, to making eye contact when you’re shaking a person's hand, to wearing a watch, having a wallet, and just wow. I think that was one of the most coolest things, a coach had never done that for me of mine at that particular point. He gave me something that impacted me outside of football. Coach Franchione, I’ll be grateful to him for the rest of my life.”

With big dreams, come big challenges, what’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve experienced in your life and how did you overcome it?

“Well I think with big challenges, come the greatest reward as well. Not letting my son down.”

Newton cracked a huge smile thinking of his son, Chosen, even pausing to ask me, “you have any kids?” I don’t, but one day.

Newton went on to describe how important it is that he’s a good father to his son, Chosen,

“You think you’ve loved, until you have a child. I just want him to be so happy about his Dad, because as long as I’ve been living I’ve always been able to say my damn Dad is cool, and I’ve also been around so many people that might not have the nicest words to say about their father, so for me, it’s just holding true to Chosen, and knowing that when he’s 27 years old, he can say, “my dad gave a damn, it’s so important to me that he knows he’s got unbelievable support from his dad.”

Best advice someone has given you about following your dreams?

“There are going to be challenges, but it’s important to remember who you are, and believing in the plan.”

Watch the video interview below.

Disclaimer: we had technical issues, and ultimately went ahead and filmed it with the Iphone, so excuse the background noise.