Cam finally comfortable with spotlight, criticisms of Super Bowl

SAN JOSE, Calif.

There’s only one Super Bowl that Cam Newton ever wanted to attend.

His own.

Newton said Tuesday that he had the chance to attend previous championship games but turned each one down. The Carolina Panthers quarterback also has declined to seek preparatory advice from players who have appeared in previous Super Bowls as he prepares for Sunday’s matchup against Denver.

"I wanted it to be fresh," Newton told co-host Gil Brandt and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "I’ve always attended the festivities leading up to the Super Bowl for sponsorships and what not. But the actual game, I’ve never been to because I wanted it to be just like this.

"I wanted to take it all in. I didn’t want to see the performances or the festivities pregame and just feel the atmosphere when I’m not rooting for my team. For me, it’s going to be very, very raw, yet something we’re all going to bottle up. It’s a lot of energy and it’s going to go to great use."

Even for a player accustomed to living in the spotlight, Newton admits being surprised by the heavy amount of Super Bowl media coverage he has received. Newton also continues to come under scrutiny for a variety of reasons ranging from the way he celebrates during Panthers games to recent comments he made about how being an African-American quarterback may "scare" some of his critics.

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Newton, though, says he keeps strong by focusing on the people who support him.

"For me, it’s never been important to bring everyone inside my personal life as well as the things I feel like doing for somebody else personally," said Newton, referring to his charity work. "I think it goes even a longer way that a person you take the time to go out and visit you see and for them to have that personal connection and tell you specific things like, ‘Man, Cam, I’ve been watching you since X, Y, Z. You’ve been empowering me to be better. I’ve seen your story and it’s made me better.’

"For a person to tell me that, it just means the world. For all the criticism I do take, for me to be reminded of the great positivity, it makes you wash all that negativity away."

Winning the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday would do the same.