Reactions were so strong that some even accused Richardson of racism.
His quarterbacks coach was Mike Shula, former head football coach of his college rival Alabama.
He also broke Otto Graham's 61-year-old record for passing yards by any quarterback in an NFL debut.
The Panthers recorded their first victory of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars 16–10. The Panthers played the Atlanta Falcons, losing 31–17 while passing for 237 yards with no passing touchdowns.
Newton increased his team's record to 2–5 with a week 7 win over the Washington Redskins 33–20.
He was the first reigning Heisman Trophy winner to go first overall since Carson Palmer in 2003. 1 selection after Tucker Frederickson (1965), Bo Jackson (1986), and Aundray Bruce (1988).
During the 2011 NFL lockout, he spent up to 12 hours a day at the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, FL, spending up to two hours per day doing one-on-one training with fellow Heisman Trophy winner and ex-Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke.
A month later on September 1, 2011, he was named the Panthers' starting quarterback, ahead of Derek Anderson and Clausen.