With the exception of the homecoming win over Chattanooga, the last few days have not been a fun time for the Auburn family. It has particularly not been pleasant for Cameron Newton and his family. We don't have to go into any details about the firestorm that has been swirling around Newton. By now everyone in America has heard some form of the story. What I'm not sure everyone has heard though, is what a good man Cameron Newton truly is. The people who really know him know that he is a good man.
Offensive Coordinator Coach Gus Malzahn recently said, "Cam has a good heart and a good spirit about him. He's just one of those positive guys that the world needs more of. He tries to look at things from a positive stand point." Everyone can see that Cam has a joy for living and a joy for the game. But one of the positive things that have not been widely disseminated is how Newton tries to be a positive influence in his community.
Shortly after arriving in Auburn Newton made enquiries about helping mentor children at a local elementary school. Principal Lynda Tremaine said she didn't know who Cam Newton was when she received a call from a friend telling her of Newton's wishes. "But I know now." Tremaine added "I really didn't expect to see him after football season started but he comes every week and spends time with the kids." A short video of his working with the children was part of episode eight of the ‘Auburn Everyday' series.
He speaks in that video about the new found fame and success he has enjoyed this year. Newton said, "There's no change in me. I pray every single day that people can see not what I can do on the field, but people can see what I'm capable of in helping others and what I want to do for other people."
That positive side of Cam was evident during Saturday's postgame interview with the Press. He was asked why he wouldn't defend himself. He responded, "I've not done anything wrong." He could have taken the time to lash out at his detractors; instead he spoke of how he loved Auburn and how God had blessed him so much since bringing him to the Plains. His remarks were captured on video showing him to be the model of graciousness and decorum
He was pressured to speak on what he, his family, and his team had been forced to endure for the previous two days, he said, "Unfortunately sir, I can't talk about that." But he did add "When God be blessin, the devil be messin." Finally, he responded to a question on how he felt after the two day barrage by the press and internet message boards. His reply was simply, "I feel 10 and 0."
Coach Gene Chizik was also reluctant to talk about the two days of innuendos and lies being thrown around about his star player. But when he was asked if he wanted to defend Newton's character, Chizik said "I can speak intelligently on that one. This is a great kid. You can go back and talk to elementary coaches, high school coaches, this is a great kid, and he has been a great kid at Auburn University everyday that he has been around me, this staff and his teammates."He added in Tuesday's press conference that he is "a great human being."
It was two years ago that Cam had almost lost the joy of living and playing the game he had loved so much since childhood. After his problems at Florida (which included a discouraging possible move to tight end) Cam's father enrolled him in Blinn Junior College in Texas. To this day Cam says it was the turning point in his life. He said, "That's when I really decided to put everything together."
His coach at Blinn was Brad Franchione. He is one of those former coaches that Chizik alluded to in his comments. Franchione is concerned for Newton and doesn't want to see anything hurt his play or Heisman chances. He told Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com that he "believes in the character and integrity of both Newton and his family. They are a humble, modest family."
Cam was asked what he thought about the support he received from his coaches, especially Coach Chizik. He replied "It makes me feel good that going about my daily activities are not going unnoticed. Because at the end of the day, I lay my head down just as normal as you. I love Auburn and that's all I have to say."
You would think that a young man who had just gone through 48 hours of being the center of a media and internet feeding frenzy attacking his character and calling both his integrity and his father's integrity into question might be a little vindictive. You would think that when standing before news men fielding questions about the episode that you would see a mean angry man. Not this man. Not Cameron Newton. Unlike his accusers he is not into the games of personal destruction.
You see this man, unlike many of the hate mongers that have delighted in attacking him, is a good man. I firmly believe as his last two coaches do - that he is a man of character and a man of integrity.
There's an old axiom that says ‘the test of a man's character is what it takes to stop him.' Newton has proven that neither 300lb defensive linemen, jealous opponents, nor the efforts of yellow journalism will stop him. He just goes about his life working hard, being a positive person, being a blessing to others, and being an unflappable leader for his teammates.
Cam Newton has made a big impact on the field with his athletic ability and he is making an even bigger impact off the field in the way he conducts himself. He is a man of graciousness and maturity far beyond his years. I am glad he is playing for the Tigers now more than ever. I am glad for his special athletic ability. But mostly I'm glad he chose to be an Auburn Man.
Go Cam, Go Tigers, beat Georgia!