As offensive linemen, kickers/specialists, and tight ends get going in the NFL combine today with interviews, exams, and measurements, all the talk heading into the combine has been about one person: Cam Newton. He kept himself in the forefront with his comments this week to Peter King, where he said “I see myself not only as a football player, but an entertainer and icon.”
Then, in regard to criticism that Newton has only started one year in college, Dan Wetzel quotes him as saying, “I don’t want to sound arrogant but I did something in one year people couldn’t do in their whole collegiate careers. We had a chance to do something great and we did it.”
This has caused much consternation in the writer-sphere. Clark Judge, who was covering the NFL as a beat writer in Baltimore when John Elway refused to sign with the Colts, thinks this sends up warning bells. He quotes one anonymous coach: “[i]n my mind, this would knock him down a draft board. It strikes at the heart of character issues, and it makes you wonder how you could put any sort of trust in him.” According to Judge, he’s not saying Newton is the next JaMarcus Russell, Vince Young, or Ryan Leaf, “[b]ut I’m not saying he isn’t, either.” Judge then went on to write a piece entitled “Biggest QB busts: will Newton be next on the list?“, which tells me that he does think it.
Unlike Judge, I really am not going to say whether Newton is or is not the next draft bust. What I do know is these statements, by themselves, do not affect my view. He’s arrogant and he’s got an ego. He wants to be a performer. I’ve got news for you. Almost every quarterback worth his salt has an ego. The question is what does that ego drive you to do. Do you work hard to prove that you are the best and feed your ego? Or do you think your stuff doesn’t stink enough to do anymore?
Unfortunately, this is something that will be re-written after the fact, and these statements do not necessarily predict what will be. If he turns out a failure, then he was immature and arrogant and entitled. If he turns out to be pretty good, then he is self-assured, with a confidence that belies his experience, and driven to prove to everyone that he is right.
“I throw better than anyone in college and I can throw with anyone in the pros. There, that’s what I think.”
That’s not Cam Newton. That was Dan Marino. You see, for every tale of Ryan Leaf–who did have warning signs but also was described as “carefree” and “loose” leading up to the draft–there is a Dan Marino–who dropped below Todd Blackledge, Tony Eason and Ken O’Brien because “scouts don’t like his attitude”. I’m not saying Cam Newton is either of them. Any outcome is possible when you think you are an icon.
[photo via Getty]