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Cam Newton Is No. 1 in Carolina's Panthers Book: Let the Scrutiny Begin

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Cam Newton, #1 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers holds up a jersey on stage after he was picked during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Dexter RogersCorrespondent IApril 30, 2011

It’s a done deal.  The Carolina Panthers selected Cam Newton with the No. 1 pick in this year's NFL draft.

Newton caps a tumultuous year off the field, but a superlative one on it.

Off the field, Newton was the subject of persistent media scrutiny as he guided the Auburn Tigers to the BCS National Championship and an undefeated season. 

Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, was believed to have brokered a deal for his son to play-for-pay at Mississippi State before he eventually settled on attending Auburn.  The media obviously feasted on the story. 

Newton was scrutinized for his questionable character flaws and his fathers’ actions.  The media talked about an incident when Newton was at University of Florida, and he allegedly stole a laptop.  He was also accused of academic fraud while at Florida.

Newton moved on from Florida and played junior college football where he guided Blinn College to the Division II National Championship in 2009.

As the 2010 college football season began, Newton was not on the radar for winning the Heisman Trophy let alone leading Auburn to a national championship.   As the season went on, Newton shined.  But as his star continued to shine brightly throughout the season, so did the media scrutiny.

Despite the persistent bashing from the media and the questions about his past, Newton blocked out all of the negativity and focused on winning.

When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Newton’s name as the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, he became just the second player to win a national championship, the Heisman Trophy and be selected the top draft pick in a one-year span.  The first to do it was Notre Dame’s Leon Joseph Hart in 1950.

Now all Newton has to do is prove his critics wrong again by competing at the highest level and prove he belongs. 

I’ve heard the likes of ESPN Todd McShay and others blast Newton.  McShay suggests he has physical talent yet lacks the intangibles to lead effectively in the NFL.  McShay has also suggested Newton’s work ethic may wane once he gets paid.

Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker did not receive such scrutiny from McShay.

I wonder why.

Anyway, Newton proved his doubters wrong before, and I think he will do it again.

Some suggest the way Newton has been characterized in the media leading up to the draft was outright racist. 

Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon recently suggested the following regarding Newton: “A lot of the criticism he’s receiving is unfortunate and racially based.” Moon continued,  “I thought we were all past this. I don’t see other quarterbacks in the draft being criticized by the media or fans about their smile or called a phony.  He’s being held to different standards from white quarterbacks.  I thought we were past all this stuff about African-American quarterbacks, but I guess we’re not.”

What Moon suggested about Newton being scrutinized due to race is true in my opinion, yet I don’t think it is quite as blatant as in the past.

History reveals there was once a time African-American quarterbacks out of college were not given opportunities to play quarterback in the NFL.  Simply put, they were believed to be mentally inferior to whites. 

Historically such ignorance has led many African-American quarterbacks to be switched to other positions.  This ultimately reinforces the negative stereotype that African-Americans are great athletes, but don’t fare well in the ultimate thinking position of quarterback in the NFL.

Let’s look at the facts: Newton is a winner who plays a brand of football that’s not the prototypical style of play.  Without question, Newton has both the physical and mental capability to be a franchise quarterback and revolutionize the position.  

He can be characterized as a bigger, stronger Michael Vick with notable power. 

While the likes of McShay and other haters will continue to scrutinize Newton’s ability, I’m quite sure he’ll continue to prove his doubters wrong despite the criticism.

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