5 Players in the NFC South Who Play Esports

Cam Newton

Carolina’s Newton isn’t just a star on the field; he’s also put the challenge out there for his fans to see him in the virtual arena.

In the old video for Gatorade below he says “don’t try me with the sticks, ’cause these thumbs right here, you don’t want to see it, you don’t want no problems. Whether you’re 13, 12, 21 years old, I’m gonna find you on Xbox Live and destroy you. I have a PlayStation too, I have a GameCube, and I even have an Atari. If it has online gaming, I will find you.”

Newton isn’t messing around with the challenge. He also wasn’t messing around when he sold his likeness to Hugo Games so they could build a mobile game based off his signature dab. When the company decided not to pursue the game, Cam came calling for the remaining $800,000 they owed him. In 2018, the two parties agreed upon terms for a settlement according to Cam’s lawyer, as reported by the Jasmine Brand.

Mike Evans

Evans has the second largest contract of any NFL wide receiver at $16.5 million per year. The deal is for five years, $82.5 million with $55 million guaranteed. But what was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ superstar wideout doing when he received news of his latest contract?

Playing Fortnite of course.

“I was on the phone with my agent and he called me and it’s one of those games that you can’t pause. If you play with teammates, you can’t let them down. If somebody gets knocked down you got to revive them,” Evans told Buccaneers.com. “I just muted the TV and I was on the phone with my agents and we were talking about the deal and it was great. I lost that game, but that was awesome news.”

Like most other 24-year-olds, Evans got caught up in the Fortnite craze. He hasn’t had as much time to practice his skills though. “I’ve played so many, and I win one in every 50 … that shit is hard.” If he’s playing solos, that’s actually pretty good. If he’s squadding up with Bucs teammates, they might need to work on their game. Still, they have better things to focus on.

Drew Brees

The New Orleans Saints star quarterback once won the Madden Bowl, but told the Hollywood Reporter that he has been playing football video games ever since Bo Jackson dominated Tecmo Bowl in the 90s.

Madden has come a long way since Brees did that interview in 2013. It was one of the first esports to be pushed into the mainstream by ESPN, but initiatives like the Madden Bowl and Madden Nation ultimately faltered. Now there is a new push for Madden as an esport through the Madden Club Championship.

He also helped distribute the educational game “Financial Football” throughout New Orleans schools. Aimed at increasing financial literacy in kids, the game uses a football field with each question advancing the ball towards the end zone.

“You’re just adding this competitive element to it where you’re having to answer these questions in order to move the ball down the field in order to score touchdowns, and it’s just a great way to learn,” Brees told the Hollywood Reporter.

Christian McCaffrey

Like his QB Newton, McCaffrey’s quickness on the field also extends to his thumbs. He’s been playing Call of Duty since he was a kid growing up in Colorado with his three bothers. Like many people, he first fell in love with the game during the Modern Warfare era, according to an interview he did with Uproxx.

While at Stanford, McCaffrey claims he reached the seventh prestige in Modern Warfare 2. For people unfamiliar with the series, that’s a lot of Call of Duty. Recently he was a beta tester in the latest World War II installment of the franchise.

Since joining the Carolina Panthers in 2017, he has used gaming to help connect with sick kids. Last Halloween, he went to the hospital to play Call of Duty while dressed as Captain America.

Mark Ingram

For Ingram, being on the cover of NCAA 12 wasn’t just an honor, it was a title he had to defend.

“How am I going to be on the cover and have somebody whoop me? It’s a matter of pride,” Ingram told ESPN’s Jon Robinson in 2011. “I wanted to win last year, but this year, I have to win. There’s no way I’m going to be on the cover of a game and lose.”

He backed up his words, beating every other college player in NCAA Football 12 at the EA Sports Draft Night Premiere Party. Ingram has come a long way from his days at Alabama to now being half of the most dynamic backfield in the NFL alongside Alvin Kamara.

He shares similar gaming habits with many other players, preferring football games and shooters like Call of Duty, which he plays with Saints teammate, star defensive end Cameron Jordan.

On The Ringer’s Achievement Oriented podcast, he compared gaming to being a football player. “All your fingers and your thoughts have to be moving together. Even on the [football] field you always have to be aware. If you hesitate for a second, you’ll probably get knocked out.”

This is the final NFC division piece of this eight-part series before the AFC series begins next week. If you are interested in reading the rest of the NFL’s interest in esports, here are the NFC West, NFC North and NFC South installments.

Mitch Reames – The intersection of the NFL and esports

After graduating from the University of Oregon’s Journalism program, Mitch began writing about esports for SportTechie.

He identified the potential for content serving fans of both sports and esports, and will be focusing on that fan sector in his writing for NFP.

When he’s not playing Fortnite, Rocket League or Hearthstone, Mitch is rooting on the LA Rams, Oregon Ducks and his fantasy team.

Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Reames