CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said the broom hanging in his locker, something that was “gifted” to him last season after the Saints swept three games against their NFC South rival, is motivation for Monday’s night’s game against New Orleans.
Newton also said it was “disrespectful, disrespectful” that somebody sent it.
“I didn’t take the pack[ing] off,” Newton said on Thursday. “I’m going to resend it to the sender if everything gets taken care of the way we know we can do it.”
Several other Carolina players also called it “disrespectful” the broom was delivered, although nobody could say for sure who sent it. Newton wouldn’t confirm whether it came from a New Orleans player, member of the organization or a fan.
“It’s very disrespectful when somebody brings out the broom on you,” cornerback James Bradberry said.
One Carolina player referred to it as “petty” if it came directly from the Saints.
The broom has been in Newton’s locker for most, if not all, of the season. Newton didn’t reveal why it was there until Thursday as the Panthers began talking about an 11-2 team they’ll likely need to defeat twice in the final three weeks to have a shot at the playoffs.
Carolina, in the midst of a five-game losing streak, is 6-7 and half a game behind Minnesota (6-6-1) for the final wild card spot in the NFC. The Panthers face the Saints and Atlanta at home, and then travel to New Orleans for the regular-season finale likely needing to win all three for a s hot at the playoffs.
The Saints are battling for the top seed in the NFC.
“Look,” Newton said. “We all know what the Saints used to be. Let’s not forget the real history. They got the juice. At the end of the day we’re coming Monday with a cup for our own, too.
“When it happened, it’s all in a game. When somebody does something, it’s all out of fun. But… it’s nothing else to be said.”
New Orleans linebacker A.J. Klein and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr., brought out a broom in the locker room after a 31-26 playoff win against the Panthers on Jan. 7 gave the Saints a season sweep against their former team. There was video of coach Sean Payton dancing with the broom in the locker room.
Carolina coach Ron Rivera said it was “inconsequential” whether sending a broom to Bank of America Stadium was disrespectful.
“What’s consequential to me is we’re preparing and getting ready to play a football game on Monday,” Rivera said. “That’s about all I can say about that.”
Newton also received a bottle of wine from Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan as part of their ongoing rivalry following the sweep.
Early last season, Jordan made fun of Newton’s colorful clothing choices by referring to the quarterback’s “grandma hat” and his “Coachella onesie” after a Week 3 victory over the Panthers.
Told that Newton’s outfit actually was a romper, Jordan said, “The romp-him? We romped him good.”
After making the game-clinching play in the wild card win, Jordan said, “You beat the Carolina Panthers three times in a year, I’m gonna have to send this guy a wine bottle.”
While Newton wouldn’t say who sent the broom, he shared his thoughts on Jordan.
“At the end of the day, we respectfully dislike each other on the field,” he said. “Off the field, it’s a different story.”
Newton also made it clear how he feels about the Saints, which he put in the same category as division rivals Atlanta and Tampa Bay.
“I don’t like them,” he said.
That typically is motivation enough for Newton in a game like this. But if he needed more in a season that has gone south since a 6-2 start, the broom is it.
“If you need any type of boost… kind of chip on your shoulder versus this game, I have a constant reminder each and every day when I look in my locker that I was gifted last year,” Newton said. “Can’t wait.”