"I see myself not only as a football player, but an entertainer and icon,” Cam Newton told Sports Illustrated's Peter King before his 2011 rookie season.
Will Cam Newton ever become part of the biggest social-media spectrum in existence? And what are some possible reasons he hasn't jumped aboard yet?
While the "icon" quote succeeded in grabbing all the headlines, just as important was what Newton said just days afterwards in clarifying himself.
"First and foremost," Newton said, "I understand that my obligation is to be the best possible football player I can be. I know and believe that."
After studying Newton's actions off the field as closely as I did his on-field play during his rookie year, I can say without any a doubt that this is a young man who cares more about cementing his legacy as a champion than he does as a celebrity.
Newton might be the most prominent athlete not on Twitter. Can you name a bigger name than Newton who doesn't boast 140 characters at a time? I can't. Bryce Harper comes to mind, but he hasn't yet achieved what Newton has. And the mention of Harper brings another interesting point.
The Washington Nationals' organization urged Harper to get off Twitter to protect their young star from saying anything that could have been detrimental to his development. We've learned that Jerry Richardson gave Newton advice about things like tattoos and piercings. Is it possible that the Panthers' owner drew a social-media line in the sand for his quarterback that ended at official Facebook pages?
I think the possibility is a real one, and if my hypothesis is correct we're unlikely to ever be graced with Newton's tweets.
Carolina fans should probably be thankful that Newton isn't wasting his time tweeting pictures of what he had for breakfast or responding to criticisms on his iPhone. In a day and age where seemingly every athlete rushes to hop online and tell us their thoughts on everything from politics to religion, it's refreshing to have one like Newton who silently lets his play carve out his image.
In this manner, Newton is a throwback superstar. Jim Brown didn't tweet. Michael Jordan didn't need 140 characters. Cam Newton knows he won't need it either.