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Cam Newton impressed Boomer Esiason at a young age

Cam Newton impressed Boomer Esiason at a young age

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton answers a question during the first day of media questioning prior to Super Bowl 50.

(David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Cam Newton either had a wicked sense of humor or he needed to brush up on his NFL history.

About 10 years ago, long before he got to the league or even to Auburn, Newton participated in an All-Star game run by Boomer Esiason, the league’s most valuable player in 1988 and the quarterback who led the Cincinnati Bengals to a Super Bowl appearance.

Esiason, now a CBS analyst, recalled meeting the young quarterback, who was in eighth or ninth grade at the time.

“He had to be at least 6-3. I was like, `This kid’s in eighth grade? You’ve got to be kidding me!’ ” Esiason said Monday.

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Newton had made the trip up to Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., from Atlanta as part of an NFL flag-football program.

“Before the game started, we were throwing pat-and-go’s down the sideline,” Esiason said. “I’m throwing, and he’s like, `Man, you can throw! You should play quarterback in the NFL!’ I’m like, `Cam, I’m out of the NFL. I’m done.’ ”

Esiason said he’s not quite sure whether Newton knew he had played in the NFL and was just making a tongue-in-cheek observation, or whether he genuinely didn’t know.

“If he was playing with me at that age, that would be a helluva thing that he pulled off,” Esiason said with a laugh. “That really was a great moment.”

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Not only did Newton have a man-sized body, but he had a big arm.

“He was whipping the ball about 60 yards.” Esiason said. “I’m dropping them in there. He was overthrowing them, I think to impress me. “

And indeed the former NFL quarterback was duly impressed.

“I ‘m saying wow this kid has got this great smile, this great look,” he said. “He was already a physical specimen. I’m like, ‘Well, I’ll see you in about 10 years at the Super Bowl.’ And who knew?”

Don’t touch that dial

CBS has retained its rights to broadcast Thursday night games for the next two seasons, and the NFL has added NBC as a partner for those games.

Both networks will broadcast five Thursday night games in 2016 and 2017, expanding the league’s overall package to 10 such games from eight the last two seasons. All Thursday night games will continue to be simulcast on NFL Network.

“Our mission when we first put games on Thursday nights in 2006 was to work strategically to make Thursdays a night for NFL football in the mold of what Monday and Sunday nights mean to millions of fans across the country,” said New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, chairman of the league’s broadcast committee.

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Universal appeal

The media event, dubbed “Super Bowl 50 Opening Night,” featured the usual array of costumed characters and “reporters” asking outrageous questions to get a reaction from players on the podiums and on the floor of the SAP Center in San Jose.

Miss Universe, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach of the Philippines, was on hand as a correspondent for a television entertainment program.

“I hope I get to speak to some players and ask them some fun questions,” she said.

Asked whether she was a fan of American football, she smiled.

“I was a soccer fan,” she said. “Now I think I’ve switch gears.”

Fender bender

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Two of the buses carrying the Denver Broncos from practice to their team hotel were involved in a minor collision. No one was injured, the team said.

“To keep the day interesting, we have a small wreck. Looks like everyone is ok though,” linebacker DeMarcus Ware wrote on Twitter.

Defensive lineman Malik Jackson, who played at USC before transferring to Tennessee, said he was on the third bus.

“Everybody was OK for the most part,” he said. “You can’t forget this is life, that things happen that you can’t control.

“This is a good example for us. That we need to control what we can.”

Super scruffy

Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil appeared on the podium with a beard that is growing out of control.

“It’s a little Tom Hank-ish Castaway look,” he said, referencing the movie about a man who survives for years on a deserted island.

Kalil, who played at USC, said the beard resulted from “a bunch of wins, which I’m excited about.”

Kalil’s wife, Natalie, was a USC song girl.

“The wife is not thrilled about it,” he said of the beard. “I think she made a comment that it’s just too burly for her. So I haven’t been able to kiss my wife in a while now, which I’m really looking forward to doing after this Sunday.”


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