Cam Newton may be leaving the lives of football fans sooner than we expected.
Wait, scratch that -- the Cam Newton we fell in love with, and came to depend on, may already be gone. This second version of Newton, the off-target one without the same hard-headed determination to always drive the ball forward, seems here to stay, for however long that may be.
Newton, often off target and rarely resembling the 2015 MVP, doesn't run anymore. He doesn't win anymore. And with each successive loss (his personal streak is now at eight), we get closer to losing him from a league that can't afford to discard more Newton-style star power.
In the postgame scrum, Newton put the blame for a "lack of execution offensively" on himself, claiming, "All fingers can point back to me specifically."
But how much longer will someone who's received so much unnecessary blame and scrutiny want to stick around and be hit with a deluge of deeper, legitimate gripes? The punishment Newton's body has taken over the past four or five seasons has been unquantifiable; from the naked eye, he simply gets hit harder, dirtier, and more often than any other elite quarterback.
And though he threw for over 300 yards and was never picked in this Thursday Night slog, any viewer would tell you the electricity was gone. It was 300 yards, devoid of possibility.
Deep in the throes of the player empowerment era in sports, Newton has always seemed to be the type to use his own agency for his benefit. After the recent departure of Andrew Luck, seemingly early, you have to wonder if he envisions an escape clause on the horizon.