If you can set aside your feelings of Cam Newton as America’s Most Controversial Athlete for a moment (which should be especially easy considering we’re in a period of mourning over Muhammad Ali, a figure who carried with him actual controversy), take a moment to consider his standing as America’s Most Accomplished Under-30 Football Player.
Newton is the only active player with a Heisman Trophy, a national championship, a No. 1 NFL Draft pick, a Rookie of the Year award, a First Team All-Pro honor, three Pro Bowl nods, an NFL MVP award, a 15-1 season and a Super Bowl appearance on his resume — all before his 27th birthday.
Speaking to a group of campers and with the cadence of someone that spent a lifetime watching his preacher father, Newton explained how he compiled a resume longer than a Steph Curry 3-pointer.
“This football that y’all are touching today, it has a lot of opportunity. I went to the White House… I got paid, I’m taking care of my family, because of football. Because I respected the game. Because I did everything my coach told me to do, I did everything my parents told me to do.
You’re looking at me with a grin on your face; you don’t understand. Because you say you want to get a scholarship offer, you say you want to be dedicated, you say you want to go to the NFL, but I’m trying to tell you — every time I get on the football field, there’s not a soul out here that can stop me. That’s not blatant disrespectful. I say that because I know the work that I put in.”
It is worth noting Newton got to where he is in part because he stole a teammate’s laptop at Florida and was subsequently kicked off the team. When ticking off his biography in hopes that those behind him may emulate, there’s one bullet point worth dodging.
Later, Newton explained his lightning rod touchdown dance with a sprinkling of Ali’s logic.
“They see me Dabbing, they see me dancing, they see me doing this and that on the field. Why? Because I’m telling everybody on that field I can do what I want to when I want to do it. Is that disrespectful? No. That’s all belief in myself.”