Newton's secret weapon for noise? Gum.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cam Newton has a secret weapon for dealing with the crowd noise he'll face on Sunday night at the Superdome in New Orleans. And it's not special earplugs like the ones Saints players used to drown out the noise at Seattle on Monday night.

It's chewing gum.

"I just depend on Wrigley's Winterfresh chewing gum to get me through the adverse times in the games,'' the third-year Carolina Panthers quarterback said on Wednesday.

No, Newton doesn't chew on a couple of sticks and then stick it in his ears to muffle the noise. That, as he noted on Wednesday, would be "a very [big] discomfort for myself.''

But apparently the gum relaxes Newton to the point it at least helps him block out distractions such as crowd noise.

It's something he began doing in high school, although then it included boiling the mandatory mouthpiece, putting his teeth imprint in it and then chewing gum so that the hard plastic would have flavor.

"So in college, I just eliminated the mouthpiece and stuck with the gum,'' Newton said.

He's superstitious about the gum as well.

"So you made a big play, even if the gum is rock solid, you can't take it out,'' Newton said. "You've just got to keep fighting through it. You may put another piece of gum in, but yeah, that's that playmaking gum.

"But if you're sucking, you've got to toss that piece of gum out and get to other pieces.''

You may be wondering why Newton spent so much time talking about gum before the Panthers (9-3) face the Saints (9-3) for first place in the NFC South. Well, he brought it up when asked if he planned to wear earplugs to combat the noise. He also joked that special earplugs aren't in the team budget.

Oh, the things you learn in big games.