Bond between Cam Newton and Greg Olsen goes beyond the field

February 7, 2016, 12:50 AM

— -- CAM NEWTON MAKES up nicknames for everyone on the Carolina Panthers' roster. Receiver Jerrico Cotchery is "Jerrico Clutchery." When Newton first met receiver Brenton Bersin, a man with long, flowing blond hair, he decided to name him after the prince in "Shrek." Only Newton got mixed up and named him "Lord Farquaad," the ugly villain from the movie.

"So I corrected him," Bersin said, "and I was like, 'You mean Prince Charming?' And he was like, 'I'm not going to call you that. You're stuck with Lord Farquaad.'"

Perhaps the most revealing name Newton has come up with is for tight end Greg Olsen. Newton calls him "The Dictator."

Teammates insist it's a term of endearment. When you've been together for five years like Newton and Olsen have, through babies and Thursday night meals in the quarterbacks room and losing seasons and a trip to the Super Bowl, you can bust on each other a bit.

And take over a quarterback's huddle. According to center Ryan Kalil, the tight end knows the offense better than some of the coaches. Olsen knows every position on the field. The Panthers' offense is complex, with long, wordy plays, and Newton doesn't wear a wristband. So when Olsen spots something wrong, he corrects Newton in the huddle.

"Greg's got a good way of doing it," Panthers quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey said, "and it's not like an A-hole way of doing it. I think they both have a high respect for one another."

Olsen is Newton's go-to guy, amassing more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two regular seasons. This season, he had nearly as many catches as the Panthers' second- and third-leading receivers ( Ted Ginn Jr. and Cotchery) combined. Olsen says it's his goal to see the game through Newton's eyes, and if they can connect enough against Denver in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday in Santa Clara, Olsen will become just the fourth tight end in NFL history to win a title after leading his team in yards and receptions.

Their bond comes from repetitions, alone-time in the film room and teasing. Dorsey suspects their wardrobes provide some fodder for both sides. (Newton, with the possible exception of the $800 Versace zebra-print pants this week, is stylish; Olsen often looks like the man on a roll of Brawny).

But their relationship runs deeper than that. It's about trust, and a sense of knowing where Olsen will be before he even runs his route. It's about a unique friendship forged when one man was starting his NFL career and another was looking for a reboot.

"Even separately, they have huge personalities," Panthers backup quarterback Joe Webb said. "They kind of clash, and it's funny. In a good way. They both have to be right. They're the biggest personalities on offense, and it's just funny watching them together."