SPARTANBURG, S.C. -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton walked into room on Friday wearing a Charlotte Hornets cap and an attitude that was as loose as any he’s had during his past four training camps.
If you didn’t realize how relaxed and comfortable the fifth-year quarterback was early during his first media availability at Wofford College, you did when Newton was asked what he considered the most important thing people should know about him.
"Well, hopefully they see that I’m pretty," Newton said jokingly. "I’m just teasing. I don’t know, man. I talk to kids across America and just try to get through to them, 'Just love what you do, man.'
"Every time a person may see me I just want them to admire my love for life above everything. Yeah, I love playing football. Yeah, I love interacting with fans and you guys. But the real winner is that I love life."
Newton certainly seemed to love his time in front of a room full of cameras and reporters, something he can’t always say.
"I wake up in the morning with a lot of honey in my tea, lemon and lime trying to make it as sweet as it can be, so I can feel the energy so when I get out there on the field it’s all smiles," Newton said.
Newton smiled for most of the 20-minute news conference. He joked about everything from his trip down the junk food and cereal aisles at the grocery store on Thursday to being a grizzly veteran.
"This going into my fifth year ... Oh my God. I’m that vet now, huh? You see it. You see it all in my facial hair," said Newton, showing little signs of facial hair.
Newton talked about how the vibe in the locker room has changed over the past few years. He didn’t mention the departure of all-time leading receiver Steve Smith or all-time leading rusher DeAngelo Williams.
"I’m not taking shots at nobody," Newton said. "We’re taking shots for us, saying we’ve got guys playing for each other and guys that know their role and are trying to perfect their role."
Newton is optimistic about the upcoming season because he believes there’s a solid group of players who have the same mentality that "As long as I’m on this team, I’m going to make the difference, I’m going to put my signature on each and every play."
Newton’s signature is bigger than most. The Panthers realized how important he is to their success and gave him a five-year, $103.8 million extension in June.
Newton admitted he’s feeling more comfortable than ever and that he’s taking pride in his leadership, in "being something that I naturally am."
"I’m not ... changing or flipping a switch on and saying, 'Now I have to go into leader Cam. Or now I have to go into playful Cam,'" Newton said. "Those are things I want to do.
"Guys are always reminding me about things -- not only what I stand for, but things they are standing for and what to expect from them. The easy part is I don’t have to do it alone."
Newton didn’t always feel that way, sometimes pressing to do too much.
There was no press in his demeanor on this day.
"Guys are doing so much behind the scenes to make this thing go," Newton said. "If they’re stressing, if they’re doing their job, I have to do my job, too. And I don’t want to do it with a frown on my face."