At the very least, Cam Newton’s time at Tigerland in July last year has proven to be a lucky charm for the NFL superstar quarterback, who will striving for glory with the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
Newton is preparing to play in his first Super Bowl after guiding the Panthers to an amazing 15-1 record during the regular season, and two crushing victories in the play-offs.
He capped off a brilliant individual season by winning the NFL’s prestigious Most Valuable Player award on the weekend, and now has his sights set on the ultimate prize – team success in Super Bowl 50.
If that happens, which looks likely, with the Carolina Panthers going in as warm favorites, then maybe Newton will reflect on that visit to Richmond in mid-2015 as the catalyst for his dream season.
Newton trained with the Richmond players at Punt Road, attended team meetings, and watched the team’s Round 14 match against Greater Western Sydney, which the Tigers won by nine points.
He subsequently explained to Tiger great Matthew Richardson, in a special Roar Vision interview, how his Punt Road experience had panned out.
“I had an opportunity to spend a couple of days with the Richmond Tigers and the overall organisation, and it’s a grade A program,” Newton said.
“There are great people involved, that make this organisation go, and it’s no wonder why these guys are winning. They have unbelievable athletes that get it going everyday . . .
“I’m trying to sharpen my edge and gain an edge by learning anything from the Richmond Tigers, or the overall AFL, that I can take back and incorporate into my training as well, and translate over to the NFL.
“The effort here is unreal, and some of the things I was reading inside the building I’m going to take back and tell my guys.”
Newton also picked up some sage words of advice from Richmond coach Damien Hardwick that resonated with him . . .
“Coach spoke a couple of things that I’m going to take back with me,” he said.
“One thing that stood out was he said it may not be your game, but it always could be your moment.
“That really hit home for me, and I’ll be sure to keep that in my heart come game time.”
Newton went on to express his gratitude for the opportunity to be involved in an elite AFL environment with Richmond.
“Outside of the nuances of the game, this is an unbelievable experience. Some things I tried to learn, but it made it even better being around such a great group of guys,” he said.
“I’m leaving with a new-found respect for a sport, and always will be tangled and trying to find out about it – not only with the sport, but, more importantly, the Richmond Tigers.”
Newton then provided ‘Richo’ with an insight into his plans for the 2015-16 NFL season (particularly interesting now given how everything has panned out for him) . . .
“End of this month (July, 2015) we’re going to get back into the groove of things and I can’t wait,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to maximising my performance and my skill come season start.”