Some may believe that we’ve heard everything we need to hear from Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon and Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly regarding quarterback Cam Newton. The folks who produce NFL Network’s Total Access felt differently, and so both men appeared on Friday’s edition of the show.
To set the stage, here’s what Nawrocki said in the PFW Draft Preview: “Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them. Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and will always struggle to win a locker room . . . Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness — is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable.”
Both Moon and Nawrocki appeared separately via phone on Total Access, with Rich Eisen.
Moon explained that Nawrocki’s criticism gave Moon “a bad feeling of things that I experienced back in 1978 when I was coming out of the college draft,” things Moon describes as “blatantly not true” regarding his perceived inability to play quarterback at the NFL level.
Moon then focused on Nawrocki’s assessment. “The things this guy is saying, they just don’t have any merit to it,” Moon said. “It’s very irresponsible reporting. I think his sources should come forward with whoever is saying [Newton] doesn’t have leadership ability, that he can’t control or command the locker room. Just things like that. You don’t win national championships as a quarterback without being able to have leadership qualities or being able to get your players to rally around you. It just won’t happen.”
As to the notion that Newton has a “fake smile,” Moon said, “How do you judge a player on his smile? Whether his smile is fake or not? I’ve never heard a thing like that in all my years of listening to evaluations of players or anybody.”
Regarding Newton’s perceived (per Nawrocki) problems with punctuality, Moon was pragmatic. “Well, if he’s late, talk to the guys that he has to report to every day,” Moon said. “They can tell you if he’s late or not. General Managers are telling you that he’s late? They’re not with him every day. Talk to the people that are around him every day if you want to get really good evaluations on a player.”
Though Nawrocki won’t disclose his sources, he claims that he obtained information from more than General Managers and scouts. “[I] talked to a lot of people in the Auburn program and a lot of people throughout Cam’s career,” Nawrocki said. “Talking to NFL sources, just tracking down his background.
“I’d rather not go into any specific sources, but anybody that questions what was written can go back and do the homework. Close the door and talk to people. But it all comes down to trust — trusting relationships. And I think you’ll find the view of people that know the kid and have been around him, they’ll tell you that everything in that report is very accurate.”
In the end, the back-and-forth between Moon and Nawrocki won’t matter. If anything, it could potentially hurt Newton, if drafting him means having guys like Moon who’ll be ready to mobilize and criticize the team if there’s a perception that Newton isn’t getting onto the field fast enough or if any eventual failures or shortcomings demonstrated at the NFL level aren’t Newton’s fault.
Think about it — does any coach want to have to worry about someone close to Newton taking Cam’s case to the media if Newton, for whatever reason, doesn’t become a great player?
That’s not a matter of race. That’s a matter of a coach having the ability to run the football team. Since Moon is advising Cam Newton and since Cam has remained silent, it can be assumed that Moon is speaking on Cam’s behalf. So will the team that drafts Cam Newton be required to contend with the possibility of being publicly second-guessed by one of the best quarterbacks of all time?
It’s just another question that any team that considers drafting Cam Newton will have to address before putting his name on the card.
In the end, we still think someone in the top ten, if not the top three, will draft Newton. The upside is too significant, and franchise quarterbacks are too hard to find.