- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 8, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Cam Newton led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl with the best season of his NFL career, collecting plenty of awards along the way.

The former Auburn quarterback and 2010 Heisman Trophy winner did it with both his right arm and his long-striding legs, just like in college.

Newton passed for 3,837 yards and a career-high 35 touchdowns. He ran for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Newton was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and offensive player of the year by The Associated Press after leading the Panthers to a 15-1 regular season record.

Now, he’s also the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s professional athlete of the year. He won the award in 2012 after he was named Rookie of the Year.

Newton quarterback will receive the honor at the ASWA awards banquet Sunday night in Birmingham. He beat out such star athletes as American League MVP Josh Donaldson, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and WBC heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder, who won last year.

Newton’s passing rating of 99.4 was the highest of his five-year pro career. He helped Carolina set team records with 500 points scored and 59 touchdowns.

Newton also set an NFL standard, becoming the first player in league history with at least 30 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in a single season. His 45 total touchdowns were more than any other player in the NFL last season.

After winning the MVP honors, Newton said it was a product of the labor by both himself and the Panthers.

“We didn’t get in this position by happenstance,” he said in February. “It took years of hard work and dedication, and now we are reaping the benefits.”

Newton received a 5-year, $103.8 million contract before the season, and then delivered on the field.

Newton, who had led Auburn to its first national championship since 1957, clearly doesn’t like losing. After the Super Bowl loss to Denver, Newton drew some criticism for cutting his post-game press conference short.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera thinks that’s a sign of how badly his star quarterback wants to win.

“That’s who he is. He hates to lose, that’s the bottom line,” Rivera said. “That is what you love in him. I would much rather have a guy who hates to lose than a guy who accepts it. The guy who accepts it, you might as well just push him out of your locker room because you don’t want him around.”

“That is a beauty of a guy like that - he wants to win and his teammates know it. That is what it is about. We don’t play this game for a participation trophy. We want to win.”

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