Cam Newton says he played the final four games of last season with a torn rotator cuff because he felt like he needed to set an example for his Panthers teammates.
"Was it smart? People may say it wasn't, but at the end of the day, I think the bigger picture was I'm one of the leaders on this team," Newton told the team's website in a story posted Thursday. "I just want to set a good standard that, listen, the team comes first and I'm just going to put myself in position to try to lead this team as much as possible."
Newton underwent shoulder surgery three weeks ago and the team expects him to be back at full speed in time for training camp in late July. In the meantime, he's working on cardio and conditioning after a fashion-forward jaunt to Coachella over the weekend.
Newton hurt his shoulder in a Dec. 11 win over the Chargers and played the remaining three games, two of them losses. The Panthers were mathematically alive for a playoff berth at the time of the injury, though their chances to return to the playoffs were slim at best.
The quarterback obviously has had plenty of time to evaluate his decision-making process, and acknowledged he might not take the same approach next time.
"I wear the 'C' patch on my jersey with great pride, and I feel as if it comes around again, would I reconsider it? Yeah, but also knowing those guys that I'm going to give every single thing that I have to give for this game, for the fans, for my teammates, especially."