On the 17th day on December there is only one place we can visit for the advent calendar. It seems fitting that today, the day on which Cam Newton finished second overall in Pro Bowl votes by a miniscule margin, we get to talk about Jake Delhomme.
#17 - Jake Delhomme - 2003-2009 - 19,258 yards - 120 TD - 89 INT - 59.2% Comp. rate
If you asked anyone who know their football before this season began who the greatest quarterback in the Panthers history was, I'd expect to hear one pretty unanimous answer - Jake Delhomme. It would have been hard to argue the point too. On debut he came from the bench and dragged us to a victory from a 17-0 deficit at halftime. He then waltzed through the season and led us on a fairy tale journey to the Super Bowl. No other QB has led us there, at least not yet.
Today I'd like to pay tribute to Delhomme and thank him for his time as our greatest ever signal caller. He must now pass the torch to Cam, he can take us from here. Cam's maturation over the last three season, though especially this one, has made him extra special. We all knew he had the swag, the confidence, the talent. This year it somehow all feels different though. I don't watch Cam and think "come on you CAN do this", instead I'm relaxed, I know he WILL do it.
Delhomme's 19,258 yards and 120 TD's remain franchise records, but with 17,488 yards and 110 TD's, Jake can feel Cam's, probably immaculate, breath on his neck. He still holds the records for fourth quarter comebacks and game winning drives but we've been so far ahead by the fourth quarter this season Cam hasn't had the chance. Though he did manage it with aplomb versus the Saints. Twice.
With Cam recently going over 3,000 yards passing for the year this season, he has tied Delhomme's franchise record for most seasons with that accolade, and Cam's 13th win broke the record for most wins in a season by a starting QB. With his name being erased from all the records, only to be replaced with that of Cam Newton, surely the time has come to hail Cam as out greatest quarterback. Especially, as the guys mentioned on Tuesday nights show, considering that Cam isn't even at his ceiling yet. How good can he be?
If you are a firm believer that Cam must do as Jake did and lead the Panthers to a Super Bowl before he can surpass him, I ask you this. Does leading the Chargers to their only Super Bowl appearance make Stan Humphries a better QB that Philip Rivers or Dan Fouts? Of course not.
Don't get me wrong, this is not an attack on Delhomme. Delhomme was fantastic for us. Just one season removed from the nightmarish 1-15, Delhomme did a stellar job turning around the fortunes of this organization. If you take out the 2007 season in which he was missing through injury, he finished with a losing record just once in his time here, and that was only 7-9 in 2004. Cam has three already. I'm taking nothing away from Delhomme, I am just using him as a yardstick to show just how incredible Cam Newton is.
So once again I say thank you for everything Jake Delhomme, you had a great run, and I hope you are happy to pass the crown to #1.
While I'm here, do you know why Jake wore number 17? It was for his daughter, Lauren Elizabeth, who, after 17 hours of labour, entered the world on DECEMBER 17 2001! Coincidence huh?
Happy 14th Birthday Lauren, tell your Dad we still love him.
By Dan Rawlinson
Follow him on Twitter @DanRawly