CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- First came the right arm reaching over the goal line with the football in Cam Newton’s hand for a 1-yard touchdown.
Then came The Dab.
Then came the angry reaction by several Tennessee Titans defensive players, upset that the quarterback celebrated in the end zone.
Then came "The Letter."
Two days after the Carolina Panthers won 27-10 at Tennessee on Nov. 15, a Nashville mother sent a letter to the eventual NFL MVP explaining how offensive his "chest puffs, pelvic thrusts" were to her 9-year-old daughter.
The Dab that Newton first revealed in an Oct. 18 win at Seattle soon became a national phenomenon. High school players, college coaches, politicians -- even 80-year-old Panthers owner Jerry Richardson -- dabbed.
It wasn’t so much the letter that started the sensation. It was that Newton, one of the most polarizing players in the NFL, was doing it. It was that Newton said he would continue to do it no matter how angry opponents, fans -- or anybody -- got about it.
The Dab took Newton to his so-called "happy place." He said the best way for teams to stop him from doing it was to stop him from scoring touchdowns.
But the Dab has been retired as the Panthers return to Nashville on Saturday for their second preseason game. Newton said as much during the offseason, saying he was looking for another way to celebrate in 2016.
The reveal won’t come until after his first touchdown during the regular season, which begins on Sept. 8 with a Super Bowl 50 rematch against the Denver Broncos.
Caylin Newton, who persuaded his older brother to do the Atlanta-based Dab instead of his traditional "Superman" celebration, didn’t have a suggestion when asked in June what he’d like the new dance to be.
He said only that it would be "spectacular."
"I’d tell him now to keep it basic. Do the ‘Superman’ move until something else pops up," said Caylin, the starting quarterback for Grady High School in Atlanta.
When the question of what Newton should do was posed on Twitter, the answers ranged from a "salute" to "The Carlton" to "just play football."
One person suggested the "Kodak Bop," a dance invented by the South Florida rapper Kodak Black.
Several suggested Newton just do the "Superman" move.
@DNewtonespn bring back the Superman— Al (@biakabutuka21) August 18, 2016
Whatever it is, it is certain to draw attention. As Carolina coach Ron Rivera was reminded on Thursday during an appearance on ESPN’s Mike & Mike show, anything Newton does becomes newsworthy.
That was apparent by the response Newton got when he walked out of his Super Bowl interview and reiterated this week when he noted in GQ magazine that he’s not subjected to extra scrutiny because he is black.
Both made headlines.
"He is who he is," Rivera said. "He’s not going to change that."
Touchdown celebrations are part of what make Newton who he is. He’s special in that he scores touchdowns with his legs like no other quarterback in the game.
Newton has 43 in five seasons, already tying the record that Hall of Famer Steve Young took 15 seasons to establish.
So, Newton is going to score. He’s going to celebrate.
Opponents and fans likely will react.
It’s not so much how Newton will celebrate that should be asked here. It’s whether opponents will find a way to keep him from having a reason to.