Cam Newton: Will Pursuit of 'Icon' Status Derail His NFL Career?

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IFebruary 24, 2011

Cam Newton: Will Pursuit of 'Icon' Status Derail His NFL Career?

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Quarterback Cameron Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates their 22-19 victory after defeating the Oregon Ducks in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale,
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Cam Newton is living large right now. Everyone loves him and he is enjoying every moment of being the Prom King right now.

    There is nothing wrong with this, but Newton already is talking about being "more" than a football player. He talks about being an entertainer and an "icon."

    This is dangerous ground for a rookie prospect who only has had one good season to be treading on. It's a long fall from the top, and Newton may be standing on a precipice.

    Newton has to be careful how he prioritizes his life because football has to come first. Look no farther than Matt Leinart to see what happens to a quarterback who is more interested in the idea of being a starting quarterback in the NFL than actually putting the work in to do the job right.

    So we will take a look at Newton and what his latest statements say about his future.

Reason No. 5 Newton's Icon Status Will Derail His Career: Lack of Focus

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - FEBRUARY 10: 2010 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton of Auburn answers questions after his workout routine for the media at Cathedral High School's sports stadium on February 10, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent Hor
    Kent Horner/Getty Images

    If you are pursuing being an entertainer and an icon, that means you are not in the film room breaking down tape. It means you are not studying your playbook or working on your mechanics.

    While Newton can't be expected to work on his game 24 hours a day, seven days a week, pursuing icon status takes more than a few hours at the end of the workday.

Reason No. 5 Newton's Pursuit of Icon Status Won't Matter: It's the 21st Century

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    STRATFORD, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25:  A man walks past an billboard on the A11 road in east London, which was due to form part of the Olympic marathon route in 2012, however the race will now be staged entirely in central London, on January 25, 2011 in London
    Oli Scarff/Getty Images

    This is the 21st Century. Pursuing an icon status is something he can do in the offseason with a few clicks of a button and a handful of promotional appearances at big events most sports stars go to anyway.

Reason No. 4 This is a Bad Idea: Too Much, Too Soon

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Quarterback Cameron Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates their 22-19 victory after defeating the Oregon Ducks in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale,
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Cam Newton was virtually unknown at this time last year compared to his fame level now.

    There is a long and distinguished list of athletes who were on top of the world one year, tried to do too much and ended up losing everything because they forgot what got them to the top in the first place.

    Newton shouldn't worry about icon status, that comes with success.

Reason No. 4 This is No Big Deal: It Was One Comment

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - FEBRUARY 10: 2010 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton of Auburn answers questions after his workout routine for the media at Cathedral High School's sports stadium on February 10, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent Hor
    Kent Horner/Getty Images

    Newton has had to answer a lot of questions lately about many different things, and this was just one comment out of thousands he has made in the last few months.

    With so little real news right now, this comment could just be getting more attention than it deserves.

Reason No. 3 This is Not a Good Thing: Matt Leinart

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 14:  Matt Leinart #9 of the Houston Texans looks on before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 14, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Matt Leinart came into the NFL as a darling of the draft with great expectations. But football was not his top priority.

    Leinart gained a reputation for wanting to reap all the benefits of being a starting quarterback in the NFL without actually putting in all the work needed to be successful as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

    In the space of a few weeks last year, Leinart went from being the starting quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals to the third string quarterback of the Houston Texans.

    Leinart is a free agent this year and his future is unknown.

Reason No. 3 This is No Big Deal: Big Egos Come With the Territory

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Quarterback Cameron Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates their 22-19 victory in the locker room after defeating the Oregon Ducks in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    To be a starting quarterback in the NFL, you have to have an ego and some self-confidence. Thinking big comes with the territory, and with the new media that comes along with today's world, thinking icon status is something every player has going through their head.

Reason No. 2 This is Not a Good Thing: Ryan Leaf

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    16 Dec 2001: Quarterback Ryan Leaf #16 of the Dallas Cowboys looks to throw the ball on the sidelines against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFL game at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  The Seahawks defeated the Cowboys 29-3.  Mandatory Credit:  Ot
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Ryan Leaf was considered a great prospect until he actually got drafted. Leaf was immature and couldn't handle the rigors of being in the NFL. He cracked under pressure and has become the biggest bust in the history of the NFL.

    If Newton is thinking beyond the NFL already, it shows a level of immaturity that will be alarming to several front office executives.

Reason No. 2 This is Overblown: Joe Namath

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    INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 24:  Joe Namath, former Jets quarterback, looks on from the sidelines before  the New York Jets take on the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 24, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Pho
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Joe Namath was as famous for his off-field endeavors as he was for his on-field accomplishments. The right personality can juggle football and fame with little problem.

    Namath is a Hall of Fame quarterback, so who are we to argue with that?

Reason No. 1 Newton is Wrong: Perception is Everything

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Quarterback Cameron Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates their 22-19 victory after defeating the Oregon Ducks in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale,
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    In this business in the modern world, perception is everything. There are a lot of people breaking down everything Newton says and does right now, and they will continue to do it up to and through the draft.

    If a team like the Bills is thinking of drafting Newton but decides to pass because they perceive Newton is not 100 percent committed to football, then he drops in the draft and loses a lot of money.

    If the perception is bad enough, he falls out of the first round.

    Image is as important as skills in the modern world.

Reason No. 1 This is Nothing: Words Are Words, Only Performance Matters

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Cameron Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers scrambles against the Oregon Ducks during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Peters
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Cam Newton can say what he wants, if he performs on the field, no one will pay much attention to his icon aspirations because it will happen no matter what.

    Scoring touchdowns and getting victories are all that matters, not flippant comments made during a press circus.

In Conclusion: This is a Very Bad Idea

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    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Quarterback Cameron Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates their 22-19 victory after defeating the Oregon Ducks in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale,
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Newton has a bit of a history of making questionable off-field decisions. If Newton already is talking about "icon" status without having thrown one pass in the NFL, it shows he doesn't have his priorities straight.

    NFL scouts and executives will take notice of comments like this, and will be cautious about how and where they draft him.

    You don't want to invest first-round money in a quarterback who is going to spend most of his time talking to agents and trying to set up TV deals rather than going to the film room and the practice field to work on his game.

    Newton is not an NFL-ready quarterback. He needs coached up and he needs to develop his skills. If that isn't his focus, then he will be in a lot of trouble in a few years because he won't be an icon, he'll be a bust and a joke.

    Newton better get his head in a better place right away, or it will be a long, hard fall from his lofty position as queen of the Combine dance.