Cam Newton says he still roots for the Atlanta Falcons even though his Carolina Panthers play in the same division.
"I've always been a Falcons fan, and I'm still a Falcons fan except for those two times a year [when the Panthers play Atlanta]," Newton, who grew up in Atlanta, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday.
Newton was asked the question after his foundation's Fun Day at a YMCA in Atlanta.
Newton is 1-3 against the Falcons in his two seasons with the Panthers and registered his first victory against his hometown team last December. In a 30-20 win, he threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a career-best 116 yards and a touchdown. He said after that game that he plays with a "chip on his shoulder" when he plays the Falcons.
His father, Cecil, told The Charlotte Observer on Monday that Panthers fans shouldn't worry that his son isn't giving his best effort when he plays the Falcons.
"Obviously with Cam, in addition to several other Panthers who have roots from Atlanta and Georgia, it's always one of the most competitive games on that schedule," Cecil Newton told the newspaper. "That's obvious, and Cam is going to assert every ounce of energy that he has."
Cecil Newton compared his son's comments to those of Miami Heat star LeBron James, who has said he wishes his home-state Cleveland Cavaliers, his former team, the best.
"Why wouldn't Cam want to express who his hometown favorite team was when he was growing up? It means no more or no less," Cecil Newton told the newspaper. "Some of his best performances came during Falcons games."