INDIANAPOLIS — In the battle of who would handle the hard questions better, score it a solid victory for Cam Newton over Ryan Mallett.
Although anyone who sat through both interviews had to come away with strong reservations about both college quarterbacks.
For both their sakes, the hope would be that their private interviews with the various teams interested in drafting them went smoother than their talks with the media.
The two quarterbacks, both dealing with off-field circumstances that could affect their draft selection, took different tacts.
Newton, the Auburn quarterback came out with a prepared statement explaining his comments about wanting to be an “icon” and “entertainer” that he made earlier in the week to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King.
He did his best to put that talk to rest by explaining he made his comments while announcing an endorsement deal and was trying to get across that he wanted to be the “best possible ambassador” for that company just like he wants to be the best possible ambassador for “whatever team I am lucky enough to play for.”
As for those older issues at the University of Florida before he bolted for a junior college and then a year at Auburn, they included charges of academic fraud and some stolen property possession charges.
Newton admitted he made mistakes and then went into his best Mark McGwire impersonation saying he was not here to talk about the past when a few enquiring media minds wanted to get specific about the Florida incidents.
“I’m not going to entertain anything that happened in my past,” Newton said. “I’m all about the future.”
Mallett chose a similar route but didn’t pull it off as well. He was barely in front of the microphone when he was asked about rumours circulating about alleged drug use by the Arkansas quarterback.
“First one, huh,” Mallett said clearly not impressed.
It was like he felt he was owed some softballs first. As one long-time NFL writer suggested, “He probably thinks they’re not going to blitz him his first game either.”
It went downhill from there.
Mallett went on to say that all the rumours were just that, rumours with no truth to them and he “laughs” every time he reads them.
He did offer this when asked about the timing of the rumours: “Obviously, somebody did it for a reason right before the combine and the draft,” Mallett said.
“That’s the last time I’m going to talk about that, though. I’m not going to talk about it right now. I’m going to talk about it with the teams — and we’ve discussed it and everything is good.”
When he was asked about it again after that, Mallett became the first player at this combine to cut his own media interview short, although he did it politely.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “Thanks guys. Appreciate it.”
Then he walked off the podium.
Newton with his prepared script came off somewhat better but didn’t do himself any favours referring to himself in the third person — like some Hollywood diva — on multiple occasions during his talk.
The worst came when he tried to recall something he was told in one of his meetings on Friday night with a potential future employer.
“This guy said the NFL doesn’t owe anybody nothing,” Newton said before adding his own interpretation.
“With Cam Newton or without, the NFL will be.”
While he began his visit with the media trying to come off as humble, the three references to himself in the third person undid all that and more.
This may all sound trivial given these guys are football players, and talented athletes first and foremost, but for both the combine weekend was to be as much about selling themselves off the field to the 32 NFL teams as it was selling what they could do on the field.
Newton would appear to have more to lose given his draft stock has not taken the dive that Mallet’s has.
But if a team is going to use a high draft pick on either, they want some assurance that boneheaded statements off the field or something more drastic like a drug-use problem, aren’t going to impact their abilities to perform every Sunday.
They’re both supposedly conducting the most important job interview of their young lives.
The thought is here, neither did themselves any favours on Saturday.
Ex-CFL great an advisor to Newton
INDIANAPOLIS — Cam Newton hasn’t always made the best choices given his opportunities, but it says here he got this one right.
Among Newton’s advisory staff is none other than former CFL and NFL great Warren Moon.
The former Edmonton Eskimos quarterback has become a sounding board of sorts for Newton and the former Auburn quarterback apparently turns to him for advice often.
“Just having Warren as a person, first off, that I look up to has been special for me, just to be a hands-on person to (share) his experiences during this time that he was going through.
“I call Warren, text him and he’s always available,” Newton said. “No matter what the occasion is. He’s always ears first and then he tells me what he feels like his best advice would be.”
Much of Newton’s hard road into the NFL has been self-inflicted, but if there anyone who can relate to a tough time getting into the NFL, it is Warren Moon.