Cam Newton, the Heisman-winning quarterback, recently told
Peter King of SI.com that he considered himself not only to be a
football player, but an entertainer and icon, as well. Football
player, check. Entertainer, of course. But an icon? Did he really
say ICON? Yes, Newton did say icon. Talk radio went on overdrive,
columnists mocked him, bloggers blasted him, and the snickering
could be heard by NFL players from New York to Newport Beach.
But don't laugh. Didn't we do the same thing when Earl Woods said
that his Tiger would be as big as Muhammad Ali? And that was before
he ever won a major, and of course, before all of his philandering with
pin-ups, porn stars and prostitutes. And oh yeah, that waitress from
People can laugh all they want at Newton, but the rock-star QB might
just have the last laugh, seriously. He won the Heisman trophy and
national championship in his one year as a starter at Auburn. He dominated
the headlines and airwaves for almost 3 months because his father
was pimping him to a few colleges. The kid's already been on
Letterman and on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Two weeks ago,
he signed the largest endorsement deal ever given to an incoming rookie.
You don't think Under Armour is going to raise his profile just a little bit.
Commercials, billboards,public appearances. You are going to see his
big smile and affable personality everywhere.
Look at the guys who've made a name for themselves with half of Newton's
talent and resume. Chad Johnson is funny, personable. and has done a lot
with good talent. T.0.? Please, haven't seen him land one endorsement contract.
He's just the ultimate diva. The most popular players in the NFL are Peyton
Manning and Tom Brady. 1 and 1A. They get the endorsements and they make
millions of dollars.
Who else is a rock-star in the NFL. Reggie Bush? Yes, he did make a
lot of money from endorsements coming out of USC, and like Newton, he
won the Heisman trophy, and even dated Kim Kardashian. But he's not even
a starter and is clearly on the elevator going down. If a poll was taken of the
most popular football players, not just NFL ones, but all active football players,
I'd have to say it would go Manning, Brady, and Cam Newton.
Newton has got "it". The personality, good-looks, athletic ability, and resume.
I'll say it again. Heisman trophy. National Championship. And already, one big
endorsement deal. Others will follow, and so too, will the jealousy.
There is no doubt, other NFL players will test Newton's character and
toughness.Veterans will be upset because Newton will make more before
he ever takes a snap, than they will in their entire careers They will
play through the whistle and drive him through the ground. They
will mock him in training camp and leave him with a dinner
bill that nears the GNP of Haiti. Yes, Cam Newton is going to be
tested physically and mentally.
However, this kid is 6'6, 250lbs. He is bigger than most linebackers and could
probably hold his own with a few down lineman. Mental toughness? Are you
kidding me? He played in the SEC. When the scandal broke about
his dad allegedly offering him to Mississippi State for $250, 000, Newton
became the most scrutinized player in the country. He didn't break
and certainly didn't snap. He just flashed his trademark smile and
said, "come get some." Newton played in the toughest conference in
the country, won the Heisman trophy, and the national championship.
Is Newton confident? Heck, yeah. But so what?. Anyone who's ever gotten
anywhere in this world knows how good he or she is. He's going to need that
confidence in the NFL because he's going to be humbled real quickly. Remember
John Elway? Newton hasn't had to deal with real failure in his career yet, but
he will experience it as a young QB in the NFL, guaranteed. His belief in himself,
just like Elway and Montana had, could help him get through the difficult times.
Cam Newton IS an icon in the state of Alabama and much of the southeast
already. Check back with me in a year, and see how many parents name their
kids, "Cam". It won't be because of Neely or Ward.
Yes, Newton is on his way to laughing all the way to the bank, and
he will probably get the last laugh on all the people that laughed
at his belief that he'll reach "icon" status.