If Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton can make Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL 16 Super Bowl 50 simulation a reality on the field at Levi’s Stadium Sunday night, he’ll likely also end up on the cover of a future game. Newton was a finalist – twice – for Madden cover honors, and lost both times (to Calvin Johnson in 2012 and Richard Sherman in 2014). But given the Madden curse that has plagued many (but not all) cover athletes, perhaps Panthers fans eager for the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory, are just as glad.
Newton, who’s a big gamer, talks about his video game prowess in this exclusive interview.
When it comes to your video game expertise, how have you seen that help you throughout your real football career?
It has nothing to do with real football, but it’s just great to see what you do on actual Sundays and see it come to life in the video game. It’s great. I grew up playing Madden and watching as well, and it’s just a blessing for me to see myself no longer have to create myself and to have my likeness on a game.
What’s the jump been like for you to see PS4 and Xbox One’s version of Cam Newton virtually?
Unreal. You know. I find myself in awe just looking at like, ‘Oh my God that looks just like me.’ And when I have family members come over and they see me playing with my character and they’re like, “Man, I thought that was real because that the graphics are just ridiculous now.”
With Electronic Arts releasing a new game every year, what would you like to see in the next Madden that they don’t do right now?
I’m not sure. That’s something that I’d have to go back and think about. One thing about Madden, those new features that they have on the game are relevant and it’s cool to have that feature. So I don’t want to say nothing right now that wouldn’t have some type of staple in the game. I just have to sit back and watch and play more Madden to see what’s missing.
What advice would you give to someone who is going to play as the Panthers in Madden NFL 15?
I would have to say when the game is on the line but the ball in Ace Boogie’s hands. He seems to get me out of a lot of situations and get me over that losing hump and maybe win a lot of football games. So if it works for me, I’m pretty sure it will work for them too.
When it comes to your team, where do you feel you rank when it comes to Madden skills?
I don’t wear No. 1 for nothing, it’s kind of like a hit, but I will say I’m a pretty good Madden football player. I’m a Madden connoisseur for all type of years dating back, and it’s great to have my thumbs be so talented.
What would you like to see your ratings be if you were in charge?
I would like a slight increase with my speed being like 99. Like ‘big, strong, fast’ is something that we all try to be, and I think I got two of those right. But I’m always slapped back into reality when I play Madden with myself and I say, ‘I’m big, I’m strong, but I’m not fast.’ I’m like 86. I want 99. I need 99. I will not be stopped if I’m 99 and to push Michael Vick’s ultimate reign of being the most dominant Madden player. I need 99 for me to give a run for it.
Who is Cam Newton?
A Super Bowl quarterback, a Heisman Trophy winner, a first-round pick, but more importantly God’s servant. I’m in this position, I scratch my head sometimes and I ask myself, ‘Why am I in this position?’ A lot of answers that I come back with is, ‘Why not?’ When I look at a lot of people where I’m from, and as you mentioned College Park, they don’t have a voice, because when the people that they look up to are the rappers, are this type of person, are that type of person, not even people necessarily from the Bankhead in Atlanta terms, but also people that’s from Buckhead that can make it from that area and be that microphone to so many different people.
How did your car crash last year impact the way you look at things?
That puts everything into perspective. I was going to bring little Chosen (his son) with me, but I didn’t think he could walk down the steps yet. He’s already walking if you ain’t know. He’s a month old. With me going through the car accident, everything is just, I’m just blessed, man. Sometimes you get asked questions and you’re speechless. You’re just here in this moment, because I’m so happy to one, walk away from it, but also see so much blessings be rained upon me.
What was the deal with those pants you wore on the flight to San Francisco?
It’s Super Bowl 50. The mantra … or the colors are black and gold. The black and gold attire that I had in my closet was extremely limited, so when I looked at my pants and I said these are black and gold, these shoes are black and gold, to tie along with the whole Super Bowl 50 black and gold.
What type of pressure did wearing those pants put on you to win the Super Bowl?
Every time I put on an attire, every single morning of my life, it’s a must-win attire, so it’s nothing different.
How do you train to be a great quarterback?
Just like you train to be great in anything else, you have to put your mind to it. First off, you’ve got to enjoy doing it and contrary to popular belief, you have to be enthused about doing it. If you’ve got those ingredients, you’ll be alright.
What do you think of Peyton Manning calling you “the future face of the NFL”?
Anything that the sheriff has to say, you can probably ink it in gold. It’s just a tremendous honor to be even mentioned and affiliated with the face of the league, but yet I think I have bigger fish to fry on Sunday, and then we’ll worry about the rest of the eight to 10 years after that.
What’s your favorite part of preparing for a football game?
I think that my favorite part of preparation would have to be game time when you’ve looked at something all week, when you prepared or you went over something with your coaches and for it to come and lay out, or play out like you went over it in the meeting room and for you to have the answer, I think that’s the ultimate answer for why you study so hard, why you stay countless hours, why you prepare so much.
How’s Super Bowl preparation different?
The preparation is not different at all. It’s just the media. The media frenzy is probably bigger than I expected, but yet it’s the Super Bowl. It’s the most impactful game of all of sports, as you can see.
What was your Super Bowl dream growing up?
Just to play in the Super Bowl, one, and to win a Super Bowl. That was the big dream of mine. I remember when the Super Bowl was in Atlanta and Steve McNair was there, one of my idols growing up, one of many idols. It just goes to show you that this is a game of inches. He threw the slant at the end and reached out and didn’t get it, one of my all-time favorite Super Bowl moments. Yet that just makes you prepare even more so that you’ll be on the winning side of the pendulum.