By Larry Fine
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Far from going 'old school' on the celebration stylings of Carolina Panthers quarter Cam Newton, former Super Bowl signal callers Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason said they wish they could have had such gridiron fun.
Simms, who had one of the great performances by a Super Bowl quarterback when he completed 22 of 25 passes in leading the New York Giants to a 39–20 1986 title win over Denver, said even his old coach Bill Parcells would overlook the on-field histrionics.
"Let's say I was as talented as Cam Newton, and I was running and throwing touchdowns and doing everything he does. Bill would go: 'Atta way, son. Keep it goin'," said Simms, the analyst for CBS Sports' TV coverage of Super Bowl 50.
Esiason, who led the Cincinnati Bengals into the Super Bowl two years later, said Newton, who faces the top-ranked defense of the Denver Broncos in the NFL title game this Sunday, had the charisma you want in a quarterback.
"There's something about his personality that lights up a room," said Esiason, also an analyst for CBS Sports.
Despite criticism in some quarters over his antics on the field, Newton insisted he would continue to be himself and demonstrated that when he arrived in California with the team wearing zebra striped pants under a black leather hoodie.
"I would say that of all the quarterbacks that are in the room, he comes walking in with those Versace pants on and that smile. You know he's here," Esiason told reporters. "And that's great. That's what you want at that position."
Simms said it was no wonder Newton was having so much fun on the field.
"I would have fun too if I was the best player out there. It's a struggle for almost everybody on the field," said Simms.
"Guys like Cam Newton, the Michael Jordans, of course they enjoy what they do because they're the best. Their talent is overwhelming. So why not?"
Esiason echoed the sentiments.
"It's a different way of doing things," Esiason acknowledged, comparing the enthusiastic Newton's antics to old school traditions of gridiron comportment.
"But first of all, we couldn't do what he does. We don't run with our head down and run over linemen and linebackers and safeties.
"I would imagine if I was one of those players running one of those guys over, I would get up and be doing all that stuff."
Added Esiason: "Here we have a young kid, who's living a dream -- the great personality, the great looking kid, the great athlete, and he's having fun. I have no problem with any of it."
(Editing by Andrew Both)