Cam Newton entered his press conference wearing a fedora with a faux press pass reading "Clark Kent" attached to it. His T-shirt featured an illustration of himself screaming, accompanied with the caption "I'm back!!!" -- only the first word was crossed out and "We" printed above it.
Make no mistake, SuperCam is back in Carolina. His message Thursday was directed at all its fans. Specifically, he wants them back in the building.
"This Sunday is important for us," Newton said. "We need to reclaim Bank of America Stadium. I know the success hasn't been there, but we ain't talking about the past. We're talking about the things here moving forward."
One week after rejoining the franchise he long starred with, the former MVP is doing his part to pay it forward. He announced his plan to give away 50 tickets to Sunday's home game against the Washington Football Team to people who otherwise don't have the opportunity to attend Panthers games. Newton said the idea emanated from a conversation he was having with his cousin just recently, and incidentally, about what he'd do differently if he had the chance to return to Charlotte.
"I would bring the city together in ways that it probably wasn't done," Newton recalled saying.
The ebullient quarterback gave the team and fan base a shot of energy with his triumphant comeback this past Sunday, which saw him produce touchdowns on each of his first two snaps. It was Newton's first time in Panther blue in almost two years, and it sparked a stunning, 34-10 upset over the NFC-leading Cardinals.
This weekend, Newton is slated to be the starter and he'll be back at the stadium he's played in most during his 11-year career. And he's determined to make it feel like home again.
"Simple and plain, I only know one Bank of America Stadium. So with that being said, this is a challenge for people to make my kind of prophecy correct," Newton explained. "I said there's no other place in football that I would rather be on Sunday than Bank of America Stadium because it will be a playoff atmosphere for more ways than one. Discredit who I am and what this game means to me, discredit who we're playing and what that game means to them. Let's get back to getting that edge and bringing the pride back to Carolina, how I once knew it to be."
The Panthers (5-5) haven't qualified for the postseason the past three seasons but currently hold the conference's No. 7 seed. Adding to Sunday's familiarity will be the presence of Washington coach Ron Rivera, whose nine-year tenure in Carolina almost entirely overlapped with Newton's. While it's sure to be a talking point through Sunday, Newton would rather the discussion be about what happens between the opposite sidelines they will be occupying for the first time in the NFL.
"I refuse for the narrative to be about two people when it's about 106 people," he said. "It's not about us. It's not about me, it's not about him. He knows how I feel about him. And he knows what it's going to be on Sunday."
It will be nostalgic for everyone.