February 26, 2011
All the controversy and all the questions about the future of Auburn's Cam Newton became the point of focus when Newton took the podium at the Scouting Combine Saturday afternoon. Newton was very poised (read: rehearsed); getting it down to the point of starting his 15 minutes in front of the media throng with an opening statement.
First and foremost, I understand that my obligation is to be the best possible football player I can be. I know and believe that. The recent comments that were made during the announcement of my recent endorsement partnership.
I was making the point that I want to be the best possible ambassador for them, just like I want to be the best possible ambassador for whatever team I'm lucky enough to play for. I'm excited to compete this week, and you will see me doing everything possible to become the best player I can possibly be.
I'm blessed to be in this situation, and I couldn't be in a better (place).
This was an obvious response to the recent statement to that he saw himself as an entertainer and an icon -- a concept that rubbed quite a few people the wrong way. Beyond that, the speech was about as antiseptic as you'd expect - and given the way Ryan Mallett failed to impress anyone who saw his podium appearance about an hour before, you can see why Newton went with the more refined approach.
Mallet looked like a guy who didn't care at all about what people thought of him ... and not in a good way. He walked off the stage after repeated questions about alleged drug use and other character concerns went unanswered. Newton looked like a guy who had gone through all the steps it takes to appear intense about correcting the issues that have some people looking at him sideways.
Newton also said that he's spoken to the Dallas Cowboys, kept answers about past "indiscretions" having to do with his father and alleged pay-for-play allegations to the scripted kind, and talked about what his combine process has been like so far.
"It was something where you had to question yourself as an athlete. I'm pretty sure that everyone in the combine was going through the same process, asking themselves questions, like, ‘Is this really what I want to do?' Because (in) each meeting, the horn blows, and that's the notice that you have two minutes left. And the coaches are asking you questions left and right. And as soon as that meeting is done, you shake hands and you get right out and you go to the next place. As soon as you walk to the next place, you do the same thing all over. But one thing I can say for each and every team is that they keep you on your toes, It's been somewhat fun for me to be eager to know and try and expect what the next team is going to say, or what they're going to have me do. It's been a fun experience so far."
Newton will get the full media car wash through the pre-draft process, and the only respite will be when he can get on the field here, at his Pro Day in March, and in individual workouts for teams later on. Beyond that, he'll be under surveillance in ways that few draft prospects have been - to the point that his ability to handle it will be a bit like a drill he needs to ace along the way.
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