clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

I used to not like Cam Newton. Here's what changed my mind.

Lost in the hot takes about the Panthers' quarterback is the fact that he's genuinely a good guy who does a lot of nice things for kids.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Some people with way too much time on their hands are up in arms over Cam Newton celebrating touchdowns. Newton is not breaking any rules and these folks are being ridiculous. And the sample set from which they make their judgment is extremely small. People who have spent time around Netwon from a distance closer than the stands or in front of a TV sing his praises.

I used to not like Cam Newton. My opinion of him was largely based on media reports during his recruitment to Auburn.

Now, I like Cam Newton. I like him based on personal interactions with him as well as observations of the quarterback during his trips to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for 7-on-7 tournaments that I cover as national recruiting director for SB Nation. Newton has his name on two 7-on-7 teams from the Atlanta area that come down and compete. He's also an IMG and Under Armour athlete, and those companies sponsor the tournaments. Maybe he has to be there?

But you can tell if an athlete is making an appearance solely because he's being paid or if he's doing it because he really cares. You can tell by the amount of time they spend at an event when the cameras are gone. You can tell by how they interact with people. Cam Newton cares. He engages players on other teams and talks legitimate trash to them. And the kids love it, talking trash right back to him. He seems to love it, too, wearing a big smile. He's encouraging and coaching them.

Something that really struck me a few years ago was Newton hanging around during a long rain delay. We get some nasty weather during the rainy season in southwest Florida and I was shocked that Newton stuck around like an average Joe, as opposed to calling it a day and heading to the hotel or driving up the road to the bigger city of Tampa. But there he was, waiting it out and when the skies cleared, Newton was right back out there. That stuck with me. Cam Newton loves to have fun and gives his time to kids even when the cameras aren't watching.

Got your ass over your shoulder about dancing? Get a life.

Have any stories about Cam Newton doing things when national media isn't looking? Share them here.

* * *

SB Nation presents: Newton goes out of his way to give a young fan a souvenir