and negotiations on his own, with Cam’s involvement? Sure, that might have happened. After all, that’s precisely why the Newton-family attorney was able to stand up and say without batting an eye: “Cam Newton never asked for any money from any school and never took money from any school.”
That’s probably right.
Cam Newton, himself, never spoke to anyone or reached his hand out to anyone.
That’s how you do things when you’re involved in something as shameful as selling your kid to the highest bidder.
“Just don’t ever let Cam speak to anyone about this and don’t ever let him touch a dime of the money and then we can look anyone in the eye and say, ‘Cam didn’t have anything to do with this.’ and we’ll be telling the truth.”
That would be akin to you tying someone to a picnic table and shooting poison darts in their mouth with a slingshot from 20 feet away.
At the trial, you could pass cross examination when the victim’s attorney says, “So you’re telling this court that you didn’t put that poison in the deceased’s body?”
“That’s correct, Mr. Attorney. I never touched his mouth with my hands.”
Cam Newton might not have touched any money. And he might not have said, himself, “I’m for sale”.
But he knows now, based on the NCAA’s findings three weeks ago, that his dad put him up for sale and he knows, or can at least strongly suspect, that he didn’t wind up at Auburn by accident.
And if he accepts that award tonight, he’s accepting it as a guy who played football this year as a rule-breaker.
And if he accepts that award tonight, he’s always going to be known as that guy. If he takes the Heisman tonight, his football legacy begins with this: “Hey, there’s the guy who won the Heisman…remember, he got caught taking a bunch of money from some school while he was in college.”
But if he just did what his dad is doing — not showing up at all — he’d be sending the right message, which he could accompany with a carefully crafted statement that would look something like this if I were advising him:
“I have decided on my own that accepting the Heisman Trophy tonight would not justify the honor and the tradition the trophy symbolizes. While I appreciate the votes and the intended salute for my outstanding play on the field this season, I must recognize that the recent issues surrounding my father and my eligibility at Auburn combine to create too much of a distraction for me and, more important, the trophy itself. The Heisman Trophy should be awarded to someone that is recognized fully for their on-field performance and I feel, at this time, the recognition afforded for my play in the 2010 season would be tarnished by the findings of the NCAA against my father in their recent investigation.”
With that, Cam Newton would be a hero.
With no fall from grace.
He doesn’t have to admit any wrong-doing, he can just tell the truth as we all know it today. His father tried to sell him to the highest bidder and that made Cam Newton ineligible to play college football.
It would bear a striking resemblance to the Alford Plea (which says “I recognize there is enough evidence in place to convict me, but I will not plead guilty”) but if fashioned right by his P.R. people, it would be characterized as having “reverence for the award itself”, which essentially is the truth, anyway.
The Heisman Trophy winner has to have a clean slate when he accepts that award.
That is, if the award really matters.
If the value of the Heisman has slipped to the extent that it’s now just given to the best college football player regardless of whether or not he was “legal or illegal”, “professional or amateur”, “eligible or ineligible”, then let Cam Newton take the trophy tonight and laugh all the way to the bank with it.
The truth is: when Cam Newton’s dad asked Mississippi State for money in exchange for his kid playing college football, Cam Newton was no longer an amateur athlete. He was a professional.
And the Heisman Trophy, already tarnished by the likes of O.J. Simpson and Reggie Bush, should go to someone who played their college football career as an amateur.
Cam Newton’s going to cash in someday soon when he signs with an NFL team.
But tonight, in New York City, he could make a statement that would garner him millions of dollars in goodwill and integrity.
Just don’t accept the award, Cam.
Someone else deserves it.
And you only get one chance – this one tonight – to prove that you’re bigger than the trophy.