Thursday, January 12, 2012

Was Cam Newton's rookie year the best ever?


Hi everyone, it's Friday morning. I posted this blog Thursday afternoon and it drew a torrent of comments. Most of them were great -- a high-level debate on various NFL rookies -- but toward the end too many of them veered into the same, sad, profane drivel. So I have had to dismantle all the comments for this post -- sorry.

Please watch for a fuller version of this story in Sunday's newspaper -- I did read all the comments and have taken them into account while I'm writing. Also watch for this -- I asked Sports Illustrated's Peter King to defend his statement that Cam Newton's rookie year was the best ever, and he did so in an email to me at some length. It's really interesting, and we will publish it in full online and in the newspaper.

Thanks for reading,

I'm writing a column for Sunday's newspaper and online that will delve into the question of whether Cam Newton's rookie season should be thought of as the best by any player, at any position.

I haven't made up my mind myself, although Peter King of Sports Illustrated has already written that he thinks it was. I'm still researching but thought you might enjoy a look at some of the competitors for this mythical "title" (a more complete list will be in Sunday's newspaper).

In chronological order, these are six of the best rookie seasons ever.

DICK "NIGHT TRAIN" LANE, cornerback, 1952: Set an NFL record that still stands with 14 interceptions in a 12-game season.

GALE SAYERS, running back, 1965: Scored 22 touchdowns as a rookie, including six in a single game.

LAWRENCE TAYLOR, linebacker, 1981: Was named AP Defensive Player of the Year as a rookie; had 9.5 sacks before it became an "official" statistic.

ERIC DICKERSON, running back, 1983: Led the NFL in rushing with 1,808 yards; also scored 18 rushing TDs.

RANDY MOSS, wide receiver, 1998: Led NFL with 17 receiving TDs; had 1313 receiving yards.

CAM NEWTON, quarterback, 2011: Accounted for 35 total TDs (21 pass, 14 run). The 14 rush TDs set an all-time record for QBs (not just rookies).

There are a number of others -- you'd be surprised, for instance, how many running backs ran for 1,000-1,500 yards as a rookie -- but those are six of the best. Where do you think Cam stacks up??