Cam Newton’s teammates selected him as the team’s 2015 Ed Block Courage Award winner. The award honors a player from each NFL team who shows courage on and off the field. This season, Newton had an NFL-leading 45 total touchdowns, including a career-high 35 passing. He is the first player in NFL history with 35 passing touchdown and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season. He finished the year with a career-high 99.4 passer rating, which is the eighth-best in the NFL.
His end-down touchdown dance, “The Dab,” has received national attention. Newtown, however, deserves even more attention for a tradition he started in 2011. After scoring a touchdown, Newton would give the touchdown ball to a child in the stands. Now, nearly all of the offensive players give their touchdown balls to children. This was most famously captured on Sunday when Jonathan Stewart gave his ball to Isabella Bottomly. The 8-year-old smile lit up television screens throughout the country.
Off the field, Newton’s foundation has donated more than $400,000 to public school systems, helping more than 4,500 student-athletes through positive programming, and has fed or provided help for more than 5,000 children and adults during the holiday seasons. This winter his Santa Cam’s Surprise Sleigh made stops throughout the city, greeting children and fans for hours. He also gave 25 grade school kids $200 gift cards during a stop at Dick’s Sporting Goods. At another stop, he donated $7,500 to Harding High to renovate the weight room.
The Ed Block Courage Award is named in honor of Ed Block, the longtime head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts who was a pioneer in his profession and a respected humanitarian.
Recent winners of the Panthers’ Ed Block Courage award include Greg Olsen (2014), Ryan Kalil (2013), Thomas Davis (2011) and Jordan Gross (2010).