Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been in the media all season, most recently due to his growing skills as a quarterback in the NFL. Some fans may have noticed he was in the media for purchasing a pair of zebra-striped Versace pants for $800 and showcasing them as he boarded the plane to California for the Super Bowl. What fans do not know about Newton, though, is that he played a part in Michael Oher’s story, as featured in The Blind Side.
Oher, the Panthers’ offensive tackle, was an All-American in 2008, as he played for the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). He was a first-round draft pick in 2009 and picked 23rd overall by the Baltimore Ravens, where he eventually became a Super Bowl champ in 2013. He played for the Ravens from 2009 to 2013, until he was traded to the Tennessee Titans in 2014. Immediately after Oher’s Super Bowl season, his performance slowly declined with the Titans. The Titans’ record itself was 2-14 that year, as Oher allowed six sacks and 26 quarterback hurries in 11 games. He was released from the Titans on Feb. 5, 2013. How he became a Panther is a story that was untold until now.
Newton’s brother, Cecil Jr., spent some time with Oher when they were both on the practice squad in Baltimore. Cecil Jr. and Oher eventually formed a friendship. Knowing his brother had recruiting capabilities for the Panthers, he made a call to Newton. He was confident Oher would be the perfect player to protect Newton on the offensive line. Agreeing with his brother, Newton made an extra effort to recruit Oher to the Panthers. During the off-season, Newton texted Oher but he did not say he wanted him on his team. Instead, he insisted that his team actually needed him. Soon after, he was in Charlotte, N.C. officially signing to be a Panther and agreed to a two-year, $7 million contract.
Oher stated he adjusted well and felt at home. Even the text from Newton made him feel wanted, especially after what could have been a career-ending season with the Titans. He quickly bonded with the Panthers and was reunited with one of his old Baltimore coaches, the Panthers’ offensive line coach, John Matsko. Oher probably would not have predicted that a simple text from Newton would turn his career around and he would contribute to a Panthers’ almost-perfect record of 15-1. He started on the offensive line every game of the 2015-16 season. Additionally, Newton and the Panthers brought Oher to another Super Bowl.
Newton may be the reason why Oher has another story to tell after his personal backstory was featured in the Oscar-winning biopic, The Blind Side, which is a film focused on his life prior to the NFL. The Blind Side had a promising cast that brought success to the movie, yet affected Oher’s life as a whole. The film introduced Oher’s life to fans all over the world, as many now know his story of going from being an African-American, homeless teen to being brought in and adopted by a Caucasian, Southern family. His adoptive parents, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, were played by Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. The movie also featured Oher’s adoptive siblings, Collins Tuohy (Lily Collins) and S.J. Tuohy (Jae Head), as well as his former tutor Miss Sue (Kathy Bates).
The Carolina Panthers will play the Denver Broncos on Feb. 7, 2016, at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. for Super Bowl 50. Newton may have added to Michael Oher’s story in The Blind Side, but with him being an emerging quarterback and the Panthers finishing the regular season at 15-1, this could be the beginning of another chapter added on to both of their NFL stories.
Opinion by Tricia Manalansan
Edited by Leigh Haugh
ESPN: ‘The Blind Side’ introduced Michael Oher, but Cam Newton’s text rescued his career
Washington Post: Michael Oher is headed back to the Super Bowl, thanks to Cam Newton
International Business Times: Carolina Panthers Michael Oher Annoyed With ‘Blind Side’ Questions Before Super Bowl 50
Featured Image Courtesy of Keith Allison’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Jeff Weese’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License