Cam Newton doesn’t care about Auburn.
He’ll never set foot on campus again.
He used the school to win the Heisman and become the No. 1 overall draft choice, and the school used him to win a national championship. The school may not be done with him, but he’s done with the school.
Honk if you heard or read any of those statements in the last year.
Just goes to show. Don’t believe everything you hear or read.
Especially about Newton. Some people never tire of being wrong about him, and he never tires of proving them wrong.
He did it again last week. For a guy who allegedly crossed the city limits for the last time last winter on his way out of town, Newton – or someone who looks exactly like him – spent an awful lot of time in Auburn, on campus and among Auburn fans. Among the various sightings and interactions:
He was spotted in the Auburn football building on Wednesday and Thursday. He ate lunch Thursday with Auburn freshman quarterback Zeke Pike, according to Pike’s Twitter account. Newton stopped by Friday at Wright’s Mill Elementary School for a surprise visit a year after he mentored some of the students there.
Oh, and for the cynics, skeptics and critics, he did so without alerting the press, without having someone tip off reporters in advance, without drawing TV cameras to the school to draw attention to himself.
Newton also spent a good part of Saturday at the Parkway Place Mall in Huntsville, along with Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and countless Auburn fans who stood in line for hours at an autograph signing of the school’s three Heisman Trophy winners.
That’s an awful lot of voluntary interaction with a program, a school and a fan base for a former player who supposedly cares little or not at all about any of them. And if you saw any of the pictures of him at the autograph signing, he did an awful lot of smiling.
Of course, if you believe some NFL analysts, the smile probably was fake anyway.
Newton’s timing couldn’t have been better for proving his doubters wrong. While he was reconvening with the Auburn family, the NFL Combine was unfolding in Indianapolis.
The quarterbacks went through their paces Sunday, and some of the same hard-bitten observers who found flaws in every aspect of Newton’s being were fainting like schoolgirls at a Justin Bieber concert at the sight of Andrew Luck.
They were wowed because Luck’s numbers compared favorably to Newton’s from last year’s combine. Luck’s official 40-yard dash time of 4.67 was a shade behind Newton’s 4.59. Luck’s broad jump was only 2 inches behind Newton’s, and Luck’s vertical was 1 inch higher.
“I think what was surprising to some people was how athletic Andrew Luck is,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “I knew he was because I’ve watched the kid work out personally, but I think a lot of people might be surprised to compare his measurables to Cam Newton from a year ago, and how similar they are.”
Mayock was one of Newton’s harshest critics a year ago. Now? He told the Charlotte Observer that, if they were available in the same draft, he would take Luck ahead of Newton.
Never mind that Newton put together the greatest season by a rookie quarterback in NFL history. Or that Luck has yet to throw a pass in the league. Or that Luck never ran 49 yards for a touchdown through the LSU defense. Or won the Heisman.
Some things don’t change. Some people never tire of being wrong about Newton. He never tires of proving them wrong. And some people never will admit when they’re wrong.
That’s probably to Newton’s advantage. He has all the tangibles to put together a Hall of Fame career, and people who know him believe he has the intangibles, too. If he needs any external motivation, there are still plenty of people willing to provide it.