Cam Newton puts down Charlotte roots

At a dinner for his charitable foundation a few weeks ago, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton talked about how he wants to embrace Charlotte.

As a rookie last season, Newton spoke to the media only when required and kept a low profile. He even caused a bit of a panic among fans when he made some comments that implied he was too big for a small market.

But it looks like Newton is putting down roots in the Queen City. In addition to getting more active in the community with his foundation, Newton has found a home.

He recently bought a $1.6 million condo in Uptown Charlotte. One of his neighbors will be basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who now owns the Charlotte Bobcats. Given the fact that the Bobcats had one of the worst seasons in NBA history and are drawing all sorts of criticism, Newton might be the most popular resident in his building.

Charlotte never has had a true national sports superstar. Julius Peppers was big, but he never embraced the community. Larry Johnson was a big deal when the basketball team in town was the Hornets. Steve Smith is a big deal and has spent his entire career with the Panthers. Sam Mills, Kevin Greene and Reggie White were big names, but they joined the Panthers at the end of their careers.

Newton has one big advantage on all of them. He’s a quarterback and that means an automatic spotlight. Kerry Collins had that once, but squandered it and lasted less than four seasons with the Panthers. If Newton continues to build on his rookie season and embraces Charlotte, then the city will embrace him. Newton has a chance to be the biggest thing ever in Charlotte, even bigger than Jordan.