Cam Newton downplays scuffle with Panthers teammate Josh Norman

ByDavid Newton ESPN logo
Tuesday, August 11, 2015

SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said his scuffle with cornerback Josh Norman on Monday was blown out of proportion.

"Let's not get it twisted," Newton said Tuesday, his first public statements since the incident. "I see multiple people getting involved in practicing their tail off. From the outside looking in, you see scuffles. I see guys challenging each other. I see guys getting better."

Monday's scuffle began when Norman stiff-armed Newton in the helmet on the return of an interception.

Newton didn't appreciate the stiff-arm and got in Norman's face. The two then got into a shoving match, which led to both being pulled to the ground in a pile as teammates tried to separate them.

Newton eventually was pulled from the pile shouting, "Hit me like that again and I'll show you something."

Newton said if the same situation occurred again, he would do the same thing as far as playing hard.

"I have no regrets about what I've done," he said. "It's been whispered about the franchise quarterback doing this, doing that. What's the blueprint of a franchise quarterback?

"I'm not going to let anyone dictate how I play. I'm not going to let anyone dictate how I feel. From afar I see guys having a family approach to the game. This is probably the closest team I've ever been on."

Quarterbacks wear red jerseys because teammates aren't allowed to hit them during practice. Newton said there's never been a "redshirt like me."

That Newton and Norman got into it wasn't a huge surprise. They had been jawing at each other for the past week.

But Newton said it wasn't personal, noting the team got better because of what happened. Newton challenged Norman on several passes on Tuesday but the two did not exchange words.

"There's no hard feelings between no one," Newton said. "I'm bringing the best out of Josh. Josh is bringing the best out of me."

Monday's practice ended with Newton breaking down the team following a long speech by coach Ron Rivera with the word "family."

Rivera said that was a poignant moment because it showed the incident would not carry over off the field or into other practices.

"Yesterday wasn't a good situation for us, and as far as I'm concerned, the situation's over," Rivera said Tuesday.

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton called Monday "another step toward greatness."

"I approve of it, as well as a lot of other teammates," he added.

Tight end Greg Olsen agreed that the incident was blown out of proportion.

"I've never seen such a minor storyline from a training camp practice turn into such headlines," Olsen said. "It probably goes to show how much people like to talk about Cam and how much of a storyline he is.

"People can't seem to get over that whole ... trying to put Cam into a box and judge every move and every facial expression."

Olsen also agreed that Newton isn't your typical quarterback, although he did add about 15 pounds to Newton's playing weight during his news conference.

"He's a big boy," Olsen said. "He's fine. Everybody needs to stop overreacting. I saw a storyline today, 'Is he going to come out to practice with an injury?' It's bizarre. He's 260 pounds. He could be 275 pounds if he wanted to.

"He's one of the biggest guys on the team. He carries the ball like a running back. A little hand-slapping with a DB, I think we'll be OK."

Olsen wasn't concerned that Carolina's new $100 million quarterback would be injured like many of the television analysts he heard on television the last 24 hours.

"I don't think there is a box that Cam needs to fit himself in because everybody looks around the league and sees other guys and says, 'OK, you have to fit into that same box,'" he said.

Newton said he doesn't plan to change. He'll continue to look at all defensive players as the "bad guy" during training camp because that's how he has to approach it to get better.

That doesn't mean those players are the bad guys once they leave the field.

"You see me and Josh on the field," Newton said. "I'm not going to say, 'Hey, Josh, your cleats are cool.' No. You don't see when I talk to Josh in the dorm. Of course you guys are going to report Cam doesn't like Josh.

"I see a guy, No. 24, become better and better each and every year. And I know I have a feeling that this is going to be his best year yet. If this is his best year, it's going to make my job a lot easier. So let's not get this twisted about respect and disrespect."

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