This is a tricky post to write.
Cam Newton is taking criticism from Clark Judge of CBSSports.com for stiff-arming the media at an NFL-sponsored “Play 60″ event on Wednesday. In general, we know fans don’t care how athletes treat the media. Frankly, we’re not that concerned with how they treat the media either.
Within Judge’s post, however, there are a few nuggets about Newton that are undeniably interesting. Unlike the rest of the NFL Draft hopefuls in New York this week, Newton paid his own way to get there and paid for his own accommodation.
The NFL, in fact, defended Newton skipping out on the media session because essentially he’s there on his own. [UPDATE: The NFL Network previously reported up to ten prospects would pay their own way and possibly not attend NFL events like the one on Wednesday or talk to the media. Hmmm.]
Judge spoke to someone with the event that said Newton was more interested in doing what he felt like rather than what he and he other prospects were asked to do.
It seems petty to criticize how Newton volunteers his time with young kids. With that said, Newton standing apart from the pack in New York is an interesting window into the young man, and what his life will be like in the future.
“It’s not that he’s a bad guy. It’s that he’s immature,” one coach told Judge. “He doesn’t make every-day decisions that most of make for ourselves. Someone else does it for him. And if that continues in the pros it could be a problem.”
Much of the personal criticism Newton has taken during the pre-draft process is unfair, but life is unfair. Especially for a quarterback.
Newton’s ability to navigate a complicated life full of unfair criticism and make those everyday decisions will ultimately be part of his job as a franchise quarterback. How can you really evaluate a kid’s ability to navigate life at this stage?
People will project their pre-conceived judgments on this story as they choose. The anti-Newton crowd will say it’s another example of why teams are wary of him. The pro-Newton crowd will say we are slamming the kid and making something out of nothing.
The world of punditry is often black and white, but the real world Cam Newton lives in is a lot more gray.