How accurately can you judge someone’s smile if you’ve never spent a minute with them? That’s what Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly did.
Because of the massive interest Nawrocki generated yesterday with his brutal portrayal of the potential No. 1 pick in next month’s NFL draft, the writer held a conference call today. [UPDATE: That may not be the case. One writer says the conference call had been previously scheduled, but perhaps PFW decided to email the world about it after the initial Newton comments were made. I do not regularly receive emails from PFW, but I did this morning.] It took 50 minutes but he was finally bombarded with Cam Newton questions. Nawrocki hedged a bit at first – “I don’t think [Newton's evaluation] was any different from the evaluations we’ve been producing for 33 years,” and then compared Newton’s character to that of Jimmy Clausen (“a disingenuous player with a scripted sense of entitlement”) and JaMarcus Russell.
Nawrocki went on to say he talked to “a lot of people who best know the kid and are familiar with him and can speak to his character, his makeup and personality.”
I pressed Nawrocki for specifics about whether or not he spent time with Newton (“no”) and then for any detail he could provide about just who these “sources” were (without asking him, you know, to name them).
“Decision-makers,” he said. “Three-to-five of them expressed that [Newton] was disillusioned about his past [Ed. presumably the Florida incidents], that he was a fraud, a narcissist and a con-artist.” Nawrocki said he spoke to people at Florida and Auburn and in the NFL.
Nawrocki even addressed silly internet rumors that he actually went to the University of Florida (“No. I went to the University of Illinois”).
So what to make of Cam Newton? Were these alleged fake smiles delivered in the huddle? To coaches? Women? Did he charm bouncers to get into bars? Win over teachers with a grin?
Everyone is coached before heading to the combine, so you can chalk this performance up to good acting. I’m a bit puzzled by the con-artist and fraud comments. What is that in regards to? It’s pretty brutal and unfair to call someone a con-artist and a fraud without backing it up. Is he a fraud because he allegedly cheated on tests? Is he a con-artist because of the way he handled his Dad supposedly pocketing money for sending his kid to Auburn instead of Mississippi State? Who exactly did he con?
Couldn’t Nawrocki press his “decision-makers” to put these harsh words into context?
The narcissist comments are not surprising – the guy’s a good-looking, 6-foot-5 superstar who just rolled the best conference in college football, won the Heisman Trophy and a National title. It was one of the greatest seasons in college football history. Of course he’s going to have a high opinion of himself.
It’s rip jobs like this that will have me rooting for Cam Newton in the pros.