Cam Newton called upon Panthers fans to help make his return to Charlotte a special one. They delivered.

It began when Newton took the field at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday for the first time since his 2020 release from the team. He came out of the tunnel as the song “I’m Coming Home” blared over the stadium speakers. The Carolina faithful met his arrival with a roar.

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The ovation was special to Newton. He made sure to thank the fans for it in his postgame news conference. He said that their energy throughout the game gave the team a boost.

“They upheld their end of the bargain,” Newton said. “I mean, the energy in there was electric. It was good juju in there.”

Newton contributed to some of that “good juju” in the second quarter when he scored on a 24-yard scamper to put the Panthers up 14-7, and then ran to midfield to celebrate his big play.

Newton was asked what inspired the animated display. He said that it was related not only to his return to Carolina but also to Sunday’s date: Nov. 21.

“Today was a special day for me, for more reason than one,” he said. “It was my resurrection day. I’m not sure if a lot of people know, Nov. 21 is a very special day for me. I took a big ‘L’ in my life. I feel like it was a big scar that ended up being my biggest star. I was incarcerated today when I was at the University of Florida, and this day is always significant of where I came from.”

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Newton was arrested in 2008 in connection with the theft of a laptop from another Florida student. Newton allegedly threw the computer out a window when police came to his dorm room to investigate. He was charged with felony counts of burglary, larceny and obstructing justice. The charges were dropped in 2009 after Newton entered a pretrial diversion program for first-time offenders.

Newton credited the judge in his case for having a major impact on his life.

“My life could be who knows where right now if the judge [hadn’t] ruled the way she did — or he did,” Newton said.

So, to Newton, the celebration was about “enjoying the moment” and acknowledging how far he had come since his arrest. His emotion further fueled the Carolina crowd.

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But despite the energy in the stadium, the Panthers (5-6) didn’t win. Washington (4-6) won 27-21 to spoil Newton’s homecoming and give coach Ron Rivera a measure of revenge against his former team.


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