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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton likes to call himself Superman, but judging by the way the NFL’s presumptive MVP has been playing this season, he’s clearly selling himself short. At 6’5”and 250 pounds, the guy not only looks the part but has been systematically destroying defenses around the league in demolitions of Kryptonian magnitude. That he’s doing all of this with an ever-present smile and an offensive scheme that has no business working this well at the professional level serves to further highlight what a special talent he is.
The only thing that could wipe the grin off his face, I think, would be if Cam could see how badly served his team is by me in Madden 16. Before last week’s NFC championship against the Arizona Cardinals, I called up a friend and arranged to play our own version of that matchup. I had just beaten him in our AFC game, so I was pretty confident I could be competitive with Superman calling the plays. What I suffered was one of the most humiliating beat-downs ever. Everything I tried to run—options, screens, bootlegs, draws—ended in disaster. The game was essentially over by halftime.
Cam makes Carolina’s offense look so good week in and week out that it’s sometimes difficult to remember he’s not exactly surrounded by the league’s most dangerous supporting cast. Good NFL defenses should (and, in my case, did) shut down the option, Carolina’s favorite offensive weapon, without breaking a sweat. That the Panthers almost went unbeaten this year, and are a game away from winning the championship, is dumbfounding.
Fortunately for real Cam, he’ll have Ron Rivera calling his plays instead of me this Sunday when the Panthers play the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl 50. Since this year’s game is taking place near my home in San Francisco—for the record, the stadium is in Santa Clara—my plan for this past week was to spend as much time indoors as humanly possible and avoid the crush of tourists. This self-imposed exile hasn’t been wasted, either. I’ve been training with the Panthers, learning to run the read option and make better use of Cam’s superhuman abilities. So when Carolina and Denver meet up on the virtual field tomorrow, my outcome will hopefully be a little better.