Cam Newton may well be on his way to an MVP season. He has proven haters wrong throughout his career, but this year, he’s also proving that you don’t need a great group of wide receivers to have an incredible season. There’s no Fitz or Megatron or Gronk on the Panthers. Just some guys who can run kind of fast and wear blue jerseys. Here’s what Cam Newton is working with:
Ted Ginn Jr.: Mr. Ginn is, ostensibly, the “premier” wide receiver on this team. The journeyman is in his second stint in Panthers blue, having also played previously in Miami, San Francisco, and Arizona. He’s listed as “wide receiver/return specialist,” which is never a good sign. He’s pulled in six touchdowns this year, and has had an all-around good season, but his pregame ritual of rubbing butter all over his hands has really hurt the Panthers. I wouldn’t trust him to hold my iPod without dropping it. According to SportingCharts.com, a site of dubious repute, he’s fifth in the league in drops. Like this one. But, yes, #1 receiver.
Corey Brown: Corey Brown, or “Philly,” as his Wikipedia page insists he is nicknamed, is listed on ESPN.com as the Panthers’ #2 receiver. Philly Brown, which is not a Sherwin-Williams paint color inspired by cheesesteaks (yet), unsurprisingly hails from Philadelphia. Mr. Brown was picked up as an undrafted free agent from Ohio State in 2014. That’s right, he played a skill position at Ohio State and went UNDRAFTED. That’s like a Kennedy who can’t win a PTA election. That’s like Cooper Manning. It’s not a good start. It’s a great story, I guess, but it’s not what you expect to hear from a 13-0 football team. Undrafted to #2 wide receiver is like a Titans story, or maybe even a Jets story. But Philly is gonna do Philly.
Jerricho Cotchery: More like Jerricho Crochety, amirite?!? Cam Newton was 15 years old when Jerricho entered the league. Props to him for still being productive and all, but this team is leaning on him more than you want a team to lean on a 33-year-old receiver whose name is spelled incorrectly, and doesn’t rhyme with “Gary Ritzgerald.” I’m always impressed by athletes pulling off lengthy careers without doing anything remarkable. He’s been in the league 11 years without making a Pro Bowl, with his only end-of-year honor being something called the “Ed Block Courage Award.” He’s basically football’s version of a character actor. Maybe David Paymer will portray him in the Cam Newton biopic.
Devin Funchess: Funchess has the opposite problem of Cotchery. When he first played the position of wide receiver at the collegiate level, Cam Newton was quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. That was way back in 2014, when Funchess converted to receiver from tight end for the Michigan Wolverines. Funchess, whose name sounds like a regional knockoff snack food brand (Slogan: “Pack some Funchess in your lunches!”), has averaged 1.6 catches per game, which is decent for a rookie. But I bet he wishes he were a tight end, so he could actually get some receptions.
Kevin Norwood: Kevin Norwood is the first and last name of a Carolina Panthers receiver and the first and middle name of actor Kevin Bacon. In his Twitter avatar, he stares down at the camera with a look of consternation on his face, sporting a shirt that says “PISS EXCELLENCE.” That is all I could find about this guy. When you have nine catches in your career, you don’t leave much of a paper trail.
Brenton Bersin: This guy. Brenton Bersin. What a dude. I don’t really know where to begin. In Spartanburg, SC, there’s this tiny college called Wofford. Home of the Terriers, Wofford College has about 1,500 students, making it one of the tiniest colleges in Division I. Bersin, despite his luscious golden locks, managed to snag nine touchdowns his junior year, tying a school record set by Jerry Richardson. Jerry Richardson is, by what I imagine is sheer coincidence, the owner of the Carolina Panthers. I get it. If I were an NFL owner who went to a college smaller than most high schools, I’d give any good player that went there a spot on my roster. He nonetheless was cut earlier this year, before being re-signed.
So…yeah. In case you were wondering why Greg Olsen gets so many looks, here’s your answer. When you are trying to decide who should be MVP, remember this. They say an artist is only as good as his tools. Cam Newton has chosen to ignore that entirely.
(Image: Mike Morbeck / Flickr)
Raynell Cooper is a writer who went to the same college as the owner of Crooked Scoreboard. You should follow him on Twitter.