Carolina fan Katie Brown gets the football Newton used to score his 13th TD of the season. (AP)
By Ryan Wilson
Remember in the weeks leading up to the draft when there were questions about whether Cam Newton would be the next JaMarcus Russell? Turns out, he's been slightly better than that. Against the Buccaneers Sunday, he scored three touchdowns (and threw for another), his 13th of the season, which set the record for most ever by a quarterback.
In anticipation of that eventuality, the Pro Football Hall of Fame had requested the ball Newton used to score the record-breaking touchdown.
Except that Newton had given the ball to a fan, 16-year-old Katie Brown, who spent the night before the game making a t-shirt that read "Katie and Cam" on the front and "Mrs. Newton" on the back. Her dad had surprised her with front-row seats. After his final rushing touchdown, the Panthers rookie jogged to where she was sitting and handed her the ball.
“It was the most amazing moment,” Brown told the Associated Press Monday. “I thought he was going to do his Superman celebration like he normally does, but then all of sudden he started running over and pointed right at me. I was in shock. I thought, I must be in a dream.”
"That's quite a gift for that young lady," FOX color analyst and former NFL head coach Jim Mora said. "That ball belongs in Canton." And Canton is where it's headed.
Panthers assistant equipment manager Don Toner experienced a different range of emotions as he saw Newton give away a football already promised to Canton.
“The funny thing is when Cam scored and started running over there we’re all yelling, ‘Oh no, don’t,’” Toner said laughing. “It was like watching it happen in slow motion. It was painful.”
Toner was tasked with getting the ball back, which turned out to be much easier than he expected. It didn't hurt that he came bearing gifts. He grabbed a replacement game ball from a ball boy in addition to four hats out of a Panthers equipment trunk.
“I just asked her real nice, ‘Would you mind exchanging that ball — we kind of need it,’” Toner said. “And she was real sweet about it. She didn’t hesitate. She was so excited she was trembling. She was just giddy about what had just happened.”
Brown was happy to oblige.
“I was like, ‘OK, no problem,’ ” she said. “I honestly believe Cam deserves to have that ball because it was his record and his achievement. He should have it.”
Hat tip: Shutdown Corner
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