Of all the things said about Cam Newton before he became the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the dumbest was said by Nolan Nawrocki, a draft analyst who believed Newton would fail in the NFL in part because he has a “fake smile.” Newton has proved his pre-draft doubters wrong, but he hasn’t forgotten.
Newton has brought up the “fake smile” thing before, and he brought it up again today at the 7-on-7 tournament for youth football players that the Cam Newton Foundation hosts in Charlotte. Newton told the Charlotte Observer that when he spends time around young players, he does so in the hopes that he’ll see he genuinely cares about their development.
“They’re looking to see why I do it,” Newton said. “‘Why does he keep wearing a smile? Is it a fake smile? Is it something that’s genuine?’ For me to be around these kids, it puts it all into perspective for me. This is why I work out. This is why I always try to keep my image as flawless as possible. Because for those kids, I go from a hero to a guy where they can say, ‘Oh Cam, he’s just like us.’”
Newton said he tries to get to know young people well enough that they’ll feel comfortable talking to him, and not just to ask for an autograph.
“I think it’s even more important to be accessible,” Newton said. “To be touched and looked at and talked to. Some of these kids are screaming for help by the attitudes and their personas. They may not know how to ask, ‘Hey Cam, how do you feel about this?’ But for me being around them, they may feel more comfortable to ask questions.”
That sounds genuine.