Friday, April 29, 2011

Cam Newton, no stranger to controversy, goes no. 1 in NFL Draft

Auburn's Cam Newton is the first pick in the NFL Draft and the man anointed to take over at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. Newton, the high-profile son of a minister, was always going to be taken within the first few picks of the combine and his draft class - before he was even picked - has been dubbed the "Cam Newton Draft". According to ESPN, today, fourteen hours after being selected, he is already working out in Charlotte preparing for what will unquestionably be a gruelling rookie year in the National Football League.

The young man has already had to face his share of controversy. After committing to the University of Florida, he initially backed up national hero and all-around good guy Roger Ramjet, err sorry, Tim Tebow. After an ankle injury and allegations of academic impropriety and theft, he transferred to a JuCo rather than face further penalties.

He took Blinn College (home of the NBA's tattooed monster, Chris Andersen) to the National JuCo Championship and transferred to Auburn University. However, it emerged in November that Newton was alleged to have been offered to SEC Colleges (by the amusingly named Kenny Rogers) if they paid him (or his father) up to $200,000. As this kind of transaction is highly illegal in college sports, the NCAA immediately began investigations into Newton, his father Cecil, Kenny Rogers and entire the Auburn football program. No guilt was ever proved and it's some of Auburn's opinion that the whole shebang was orchestrated by Florida coach Urban Meyer.

With each layer, the Cam Newton Controversy sounded more and more fishy, yet no rotting piscine heads have been found anywhere, testament either to lack of evidence or a collegiate athletic association which has neither the reach nor heart to uncover one example of what many suspect to be systematic rorting of the system. Yet the young man remained as unaffected as possible during this time and ended his time at Auburn with the Heisman Trophy and a National Championship in tow. The only questions that remain about Cam Newton aren't ones of body and talent, but of his attitude and common sense.

Rather than face ongoing scrutiny at college level, Newton, in a decision probably called "Operation: Out of the Frying Pan", decided to face ongoing scrutiny in the NFL. He was made the number one pick. It's true he had probably exhausted his time in College football - really, what else does he have to play for? - and he's talented enough to thrive in the NFL. Whether he's going to be the professional he was as an alleged amateur is hidden by the shrouds of time, but he at least has the pedigree and exposure to hype which could help him avoid being nominated as a "bust".

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