Braylon Beam has 'the best day ever' as honorary Panthers coach

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Six-year-old Braylon Beam is on his way to becoming the most popular coach in the NFL this season.

Asked before Friday night's FanFest practice what his favorite part of being the honorary coach of the Carolina Panthers had been, Beam looked out at a room full of reporters and said, "Meeting y'all."

That was followed by a collective, "Awwww!"

Beam's day began with meeting Panthers coach Ron Rivera and was followed with a "dance-off" between Newton, tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker Luke Kuechly in the locker room.

Asked who was the best dancer -- other than him -- he picked Newton.

General manager Dave Gettleman signed Beam last month to a one-day contract. It happened at Beam's school in front of his friends and teachers in nearby Denver, North Carolina.

Beam said at the time his first play for quarterback Cam Newton would be to "throw deep." The initial plan was for the pass to go to Olsen, but during his pre-practice news conference he called an audible and said wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

Reminded of the original call, Beam smiled and said, "Both of them."

The pass went to Benjamin.

Before practice, the honorary coach gave Newton some instructions.

Asked how his franchise quarterback looked, Beam said: "Great. He's been talking to my family a lot. It means a lot."

That was followed with another, "Awwww!"

And on the field?

"He looks like he's ready to me," Beam said of Newton, grinning from ear to ear.

Beam's story has been drawing the same kind of reaction around the country since he appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" two months ago to tell about his #JustKeepDancing campaign.

The campaign began as a way for Beam to battle chemotherapy treatments for a brain tumor discovered in February, when he began losing his sight.

While on the show, he told DeGeneres his goal was to one day coach his home-state Panthers. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina and the Panthers, he got that wish Friday night at Bank of America Stadium.

Beam spent the practice by Rivera's side.

"I call him 'Riverboat,'" Beam said, referring to the nickname Rivera was given two years ago when he began gambling on fourth down.

Later, in a team meeting, Beam offered these words to the players and staff: "Be brave, be positive, never give up, have a heart, go Cats."

Beam lives that every day. His strength has been an inspiration to many who have heard his story and watched him dance.

He wanted to be the coach of the Panthers because he believes they can go to the Super Bowl.

He still does.

Beam put a smile on a lot of faces on this day, particularly after practice when he danced with Newton, fullback Mike Tolbert and other players on the middle of the field in front of 55,000 fans.

His being here might have meant more to players and coaches than to himself.

And that was a lot, because Beam said this was "the best day ever."