Put yourself in Cam Newton’s shoes for just a moment. You are now a 21-year-old starting quarterback in the Southeastern Conference.
Can you feel the pressure yet?
What about if you’re one of the most highly touted recruits in football, not once but twice? Pressure from the school community to live up to elevated expectations, a proud and victory-driven fan base that wants championships at all costs, and a family that wants nothing but the best for you; the weight of the world was on the shoulders of a 6-foot-6 250 pound quarterback.
Although the job at hand would not be easy, Newton still made comeback victories and sensational plays look routine, each and every Saturday.
Even the "Mad Hatter" and the LSU Tigers stood no match for Newton and the Auburn Tigers, as “War Eagle’s” quarterback willed his team to an eighth straight win.
The following Monday, Auburn elevated to No. 1 in the BCS standings, and Newton was the toast of not only “The Plains,” but also the country.
All of the presumed accolades that would soon follow came crashing down a week later.
Newton went from hero to goat in a matter of moments. Everything seemed to unfold at a rapid pace once the first quotes regarding the “pay-for-play” scandal hit the airwaves.
Each and every day that followed, it seemed like ESPN’s Joe Schad had a new tidbit or quote from another source “with knowledge close to the program.”
Every talk show in the country threw in its two cents.
Yet, a poised Cam Newton continued to play, and Auburn continued to win. There of course were grumblings, and fingers pointed in too many directions to even count.
Believe it or not, the brunt of the blame landed on Newton’s father, Cecil Newton Sr.
If Cecil and Cameron Newton both knew that there were open handshakes expected, and desired, then clearly all awards, accolades, and prestige of the Tigers’ 2010 season will be tarnished and forfeited.
However, until that is the case, and credible details of exact occurrences and money exchanging hands and bank accounts surface, Newton deserves each and every award.
And if you are in the slim percentage that believes Cam Newton is not the best player in the country, just watch No. 2 play for 30 seconds. Newton is either sitting in the pocket for an hour, only to pick apart defenses with the cannon connected to his right shoulder, or he is galloping across the Southern Plains like a triple crown winning thoroughbred.
Plain and simple, Cam Newton was amazing this year, and is a major reason, if not the only reason, why Auburn is in the National Championship.
Now, imagine if you are Cam’s father, Cecil. Your son has traveled from Georgia, where he played high school football, to Gainesville for a brief stint behind Tim Tebow with the Gators, and then to Blinn College, where ultimately Cam became the dominant player he is now.
Once again, if Cecil Newton Sr. did have his hand out, that is unfortunate on so many levels, including with the Heisman Trophy Trust committee.
However, there is one angle of this story that I cannot agree with.
With all the allegations, negative publicity and media reports regarding Auburn, Mississippi State, Dan Mullen, Gene Chizik, and Cecil Newton Sr., it is the father’s right and necessity to be in the presence of his own son on what could be the most memorable night of both family members’ lives.
Could you imagine missing your son’s crowning achievement?
If you were Cam Newton, and heard your name announced by Chris Fowler on Saturday night, who would be the first person you embraced?
Logically, your mother and father would be on each side, but Cam Newton will not have that opportunity.
Unfortunately, late Thursday, Cecil’s attorney released a statement stating, “So that my son Cam Newton can receive all the honors and congratulations that he has worked so hard to accomplish without distraction, I have decided not to be in attendance at the Heisman ceremony; as it will perhaps rob Cam and the event of a sacred moment.”
Although this might be true from a legal and publicity standpoint, in terms of family values and wholesome tradition, both the Newtons are being torn apart on a special and momentous occasion.
If you were Cam Newton, wouldn’t you want your father to be right next to you as your name, your accomplishments, and hard work were honored Saturday night?
This Saturday night will only occur once, and Newton seems to be the front-runner to strike the Heisman pose.
Cam’s words as he accepts the award might make all the difference during the ceremony, but nothing he can say will fill the empty seat in the front row.