Being the ideal draft prospect means more than just having the physical attributes required to take on the job. Avoiding controversy, in this day and age, is of equal importance to scouts and team general managers who are looking for a player who can help build a strong foundation.
For Cameron Newton, controversy has been the nagging element pulling him away from apparent stardom. Arguably one of the more physically gifted draft prospects ever, Newton would appear to be a shoo-in for the number one pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Unfortunately, Newton comes with a certain package. No, the package isn't necessarily his history of off-field troubles.
The package would be best classified as a magnetizing force surrounding Newton, causing everything said, heard, or read about him to be over-analyzed, ridiculed, disputed, skewed, and eventually blown out of proportion.
In reality Cameron Newton has proven to be a great football player with an enthusiastic attitude and overly endearing personality. That was how Newton carried himself from the summer of 2010 to the present, with the NFL Draft now just days away.
But, as the NFL Draft has drawn closer and closer, the tendency for media and various prominent voices in sports to give their take on Cam Newton has increased. With this sudden voicing of opinions has come greater controversy.
And, with every new tidbit of news regarding the superstar, the more things get completely out of hand.
Former NFL quarterback, Warren Moon, recently commented about Newton's criticism received by the media, claiming that racial judgments and mental dispositions were driving Cam Newton's image out of its true self.
Newton is the lone African American quarterback amongst the main draft group (though I, the author, would argue Tyrod Taylor has been vastly overlooked).
But, Warren Moon might have been out of the modern frame of mind when he made his comments. Now, Moon dealt with a hand full of racial barriers as an NFL quarterback, but in the year 2011 it's difficult to draw up the correlations Moon was trying to bring to our attention.
What NFL scouts want is talent, whether it's black or white. They also want a smart player, especially for the quarterback position.
That statement is where things start to look foggy when it comes to racial disputes. Newton, as of now, isn't considered to have the mental attributes required to succeed as well as the other prospects at his position.
Is it because of his skin color? Despite what Warren Moon thinks, the answer is definitely a no.
But, that isn't to say that Newton has possibly been misjudged by the mass media and NFL scouts. In fact, it's pretty evident the scouts and mass media are wrongfully diagnosing Newton's "flaws."
The reason he has been criticized more is because he has more to be criticized about. Nobody wants to talk about the NFL quarterback prospect who's never done anything worse than accidentally break his mother's curfew from the 10th grade.
In most cases quarterback prospects seem to fall under this umbrella of innocence and higher standards for living. The position takes more of a mental aspect, rather than a physical aspect, which correlates with more cerebral persons succeeding at the positions.
If you get a guy at the quarterback position who doesn't fall under these standards, it's easy to over-classify him and eventually mis-classify him.
Such is the case for Cam Newton, who appears to be just as intelligent as the next guy.
He just simply has a dark past. He's being criticized because of the laptop incident from Florida and for the pay-for-play allegations.
And, now, scouts are writing that Newton is a "me" type of player who isn't willing to learn or listen. What can a player possibly do during a few workouts to solidly prove that?
Everything people have used to evaluate Cam Newton's NFL readiness has been based off his early college days in Gainesville, or his recent personality analysis by "experts."
In the end, they say he isn't the type of locker room guy you want. They say he won't be a team player. They are basically implying he won't be a winner.
Did we all spend the fall and winter in elongated hibernation?
Have people really not seen what Newton is capable of?
At the start of 2010 Auburn was considered a mediocre SEC team. They were coming off a rough 2009 campaign.
Enter Cam Newton, and all of a sudden the Tigers were the most dominant team in college football. Newton proved to be one of the more dominant players in college football history. He put Tim Tebow in the past faster than anyone could have imagined.
And yet, he did it all with a burden of distractions that most players don't have to deal with. He was followed by a criticizing media through the entire season.
As the games got tougher and bigger, the media got more information and judged Newton even more. The spotlight grew brighter and brighter.
By the time Cam Newton was lacing up his shoes for the BCS National Championship, he was the most hated man in sports (okay, aside from LeBron James).
You sit back and wonder how you would handle the spotlight, the fame, and the inevitable presence of criticism. The implications of the situation Newton had to deal with would have most buckling at the knees.
But, Cameron Newton played through the entire 2010 season and endured every post-game or pre-game presser with a grin from ear to ear, perfect politeness, and saying all of the right things.
And scouts think he's not a team guy? Or mentally prepared?
If anything, Cameron Newton has proved he is a master at dealing with controversy. Good people and bad people make mistakes and do bad things, and sometimes it's how you deal with the consequences that shows who you truly are.
Because of his past mistakes Newton has been crafted by the media into a misrepresented cancer, seemingly incapable of producing in the NFL.
If he was so cancerous, how in the world did Auburn not back-track last year?
All of this hype surrounding Newton's undeserving glorification and backlash about his past, resulting in accusations of racial discrimination by evaluators, can't even touch Cameron Newton.
It's also pretty evident that the NFL managers get it. All of the teams with top ten picks are working him out.
That's likely because the managers are thinking exactly what I'm thinking.
There's no way any of this controversy derails Cam Newton. He's resisted the black hole of the manipulative media before, and he should continue to do so.
I would evaluate Cameron Newton with the same amount of cerebral capacity as the other quarterbacks in the draft, and also credit him for his outstanding athleticism and accomplishments.
Sure, there might need to be a few long, dramatic lectures between he and an authority, but he's a proven winner and a king at dealing with distractions.
What more could you possibly ask for?
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