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Pride is in Newton's way

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted May 12, 2011 @ 2:59 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

Cam Newton says some strange things.

My concern about him at the moment has nothing to do with some of the off-the-field mistakes he made in college or his inexperience with a pro-style offense. That's not my focus right now, although the concerns over those things are valid. My issue stems from an answer he gave to a question in a radio interview with WFNZ in Charlotte last week.

Newton was asked what he plans to do to improve his game and play at the same level of the other quarterbacks from the NFC South — Drew Brees, Josh Freeman and Matt Ryan. Brees and Ryan made the Pro Bowl last season, and some postseason trips to Honolulu probably aren't too far away for Freeman, who has made directing fourth-quarter comebacks a habit.

"That's an excellent question, and the thing that constantly goes through my mind as I work out to become the best and I challenge myself with a simple scenario — I ask myself, well, can I do the things that Drew Brees does?" Newton said.

Great start, Cam. Take it home.

"And for me, the competitor that I am, I would always say, 'yes,' " Newton said.

Oh no.

"Can I do the things that Josh Freeman does? I would ask myself that and I would always say, 'yes,' " he continued.

OK, he's very confident. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. What good NFL quarterback doesn't think he's really good?

"But now to flip that, to keep me motivated, I ask, 'can Drew Brees do what I can do?' " Newton said. "Can Josh Freeman do the things that I can do? Can Matt Ryan do the things that I can do? So, I'm motivated to be what those guys are, and that's an excellent pocket passer."

Cam Newton, you lost me. There is a difference between being a competitor and being overly confident.

Newton is one of the most scrutinized draft prospects in recent memory. Finding motivation doesn't need to involve absurd comparisons like the ones he made in that response.

In the weeks leading up to the draft, where Newton was selected first overall by the Panthers, every move he made was scrutinized closely. Some people questioned if he had the drive to be great. His father, Cecil, received harsh criticism. The critics raised their eyebrows when he said, just after being drafted, that the first thing he wanted to do was take his mother on a "much-needed vacation."

In PFW's 2011 Draft Preview book, Newton was described as being "very disingenuous." He was called "an overhyped, high-risk, high-reward selection with a glaring bust factor."

If motivation is what Newton seeks, there are an overwhelming number of people, articles and TV clips that would give him his fill. I know he says he doesn't pay attention to the sports talk shows on the radio or the Internet or newspapers, but maybe he should, just once in a while. He certainly doesn't need to ask himself if Drew Brees can do what he does.

Instead of going the humble route, Newton went with the weird, "I want to be great but I kind of already am" answer. It's not that much of a surprise if you've heard Newton interviewed before.

Yes, it's true that Newton is one of the most athletically gifted quarterbacks to ever enter the league. He's right about that. There are things he can do that other top quarterbacks in the league cannot.

A big ego, however, is not going to help him get any closer to playing the game as well as they do. If Newton is aware of that, he's not making it clear enough.

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