CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The scene was filmed in 2012, Cam Newton’s second year in the league, four seasons before he won the NFL MVP award and led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl. It was an NFL “Play 60” commercial featuring a conversation between Newton and a cute kid thanking the quarterback for coming to his school.
Here’s how it went after Newton reminded the kid about the importance of “60 minutes of play a day."
Kid: “So I can become the starting quarterback of the Panthers?”
Kid: “And you can be my backup?”
Newton: “Excuse me?”
Kid: “And make Panthers fans forget about you?”
Kid: “And become your mom’s favorite player?”
The commercial was a reminder every NFL player, from a franchise quarterback to a role player on special teams, one day will be replaced.
It was recirculated on social media Sunday soon after Carolina’s 38-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in which backup quarterback Kyle Allen threw four touchdown passes. Newton was home rehabbing a sore left foot that will force him to miss a second straight start at Houston Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox). And possibly more starts beyond that.
Some jokingly suggested on social media the kid in the commercial was the 23-year-old Allen.
As Newton said in 2012: Whoa!
Yes, everybody loves a quarterback controversy, but there isn’t one at Carolina. Not now, at least.
Newton will be the starter when he’s recovered, whether that’s in two weeks or a month from now. As Panthers coach Ron Rivera said, “He’s our quarterback and he’s who we rely on.”
But there will come a time when the 30-year-old Newton will have to be replaced, when the Panthers will have to make a decision on whether to move forward with the first pick of the 2011 draft or move on. That time could come sooner than later with Newton’s current deal up after the 2020 season.
Allen’s performance Sunday made it easier to think about moving forward with the second-year, undrafted player out of the University of Houston. Allen is 2-0 as a starter, and Newton has lost eight straight, which makes for a good storyline.
However, the Panthers have a small sample of what Allen might be. They have a big sample of what Newton has been.
This isn't close to reaching the level of the Carson Wentz-Nick Foles controversy in Philadelphia. Foles led the Eagles to a victory over New England in the Super Bowl after the 2017 season, a season in which Wentz suffered a torn ACL in Week 14.
Foles went 5-1 as the starter after Wentz went down, including 3-0 in the playoffs, capped by the Super Bowl MVP award after throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns.
Allen, as impressive has he’s been in two starts, has beaten a New Orleans team that already clinched a playoff berth in last season’s finale and an Arizona team last week coming off a 3-13 2018 season.
Garoppolo's play ultimately got the Patriots a second-round draft pick in a 2017 trade with San Francisco.
The Panthers aren’t looking for trade bait. They’re looking for a competent backup for Newton and perhaps a long-term replacement for a player who has taken more hits than any quarterback since 2011.
They understand there could be a time -- whether it’s because of injuries or performance -- they face the same situation the New York Giants were in with two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning, who was benched a week ago.
Allen has completed 35 of 53 pass attempts (66%) for 489 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions in two starts.
But Rivera wouldn’t even say Allen’s four-touchdown performance on Sunday made it easier to announce Newton wouldn’t play against Houston.
Rivera is keeping everything in perspective. So should those who want to make Allen out to be the cute kid in a commercial that will make fans forget Newton, still the face of the organization.
“Kyle’s performance was what we needed,” Rivera said. “He came out and played very well, and did the things we were hoping he would do. What it does, it energizes us at a time we needed a little energy.”