CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 13: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers listens to the fans cheer during the final seconds of a win against the Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 38-0. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Cam Newton is about to be named MVP and is a strong favorite to earn the same award in Super Bowl 50. But not long ago, a lot of folks were doubting the uniquely-talented quarterback.


Just a small collection of things said about Newton leading up to the 2011 NFL draft…

“I just don’t know if he cares enough.” — NFL Network’s Mike Mayock

Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show days before the draft, Mayock voiced some strong concerns about the Auburn product, stating: “It’s just this gut feeling I have that I don’t know how great he wants to be.”

More from USA Today:

“What it really comes down to … is football IQ and work ethic. And if he wants to be the best quarterback in the game, I’m all in. I love it.

“But something tells me that he’ll be content to be a multi-millionaire who’s pretty good. And that doesn’t get it done for me.”

“Does not command respect from teammates and will always struggle to win a locker room.” — Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki

It gets worse, via PFT:

“Very disingenuous — has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them. Has an enormous ego with a sense of entitlement that continually invites trouble and makes him believe he is above the law — does not command respect from teammates and will always struggle to win a locker room . . . Lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness — is not punctual, seeks shortcuts and sets a bad example. Immature and has had issues with authority. Not dependable.”

“He would scare me to death to take.” — Unnamed scout

That comes from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article that produced some serious hindsight gold, including:

Newton, the driving force behind Auburn’s national championship, isn’t even the top-rated quarterback in the draft based on the consensus of scouts.

That would be Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, another strapping underclassmen who, like Newton, also ran the spread-option offense that isn’t conducive to the pro-style approach of the NFL.


I don’t like any of them, really,” said a national scout for a team with an established starter. “There’s no Sam Bradfords. There’s no Josh Freeman. I think they’re all second- or third rounders.”


The scouts also were asked a multiple-choice question on how Newton’s career would play out.

Two said Newton would be a perennial Pro Bowler, nine said he’d be a solid starter, nine said he’d play but never be effective and four said he’d be a bust.

“Looks terrible.” — Unnamed scout

That was based on Newton’s highly-criticized Scouting Combine performance.

“Give the Panthers a quarterback who can complete 60-percent of his passes and give them some semblance of a passing game and they’ll be competitive. Newton’s not going to do that right away, and maybe he never does.” — ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas

Although to Yasinskas’ credit, he adjusted his position on Newton prior to the draft, stating:

New Orleans has Drew Brees and Atlanta has Matt Ryan. You do the math, but my quick calculations say three out of four NFC South teams have a franchise quarterback who will be around for the foreseeable future.

That’s why the Panthers need to take Newton. He is the only guy in this year’s draft with a chance to be a true franchise quarterback. The No. 1 pick is a gift designed to help the league’s worst team get better, and at least in theory, you have to take your shot when it’s there because you shouldn’t be sitting at No. 1 repeatedly.

“In no way am I saying that I have convictions in either of these two quarterbacks as I see both as potential boom or bust guys, and I do not think either is worth the risk pulling the trigger on in the first round.” — Wes Bunting of the National Football Post, referring to Newton and Jake Locker

In regard to Newton’s maturity:

One scout told me that he comes off as a mature and well-spoken kid in the media, but it’s all an act. In reality, he said that he’s a selfish, “me first” guy who eventually would have worn out his welcome at Auburn.

“What worries me about Cam Newton is is he a person who is going to work hard? Will he be dedicated? Is the money going to spoil him? Will he take coaching? What kind of a leader will he be?” — NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi

Same thing, different place.

“If Mike Holmgren takes Cam Newton, he better be fired. I don’t care who he is, you would severely damage this process we have going here.” — reader

Yeah, thank goodness the Browns stuck to their process and traded down before taking Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor…

“He was a one-year wonder. Akili Smith was a one-year wonder.” — ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

The comparison alone had to hurt.

“We know he loves to play the game of football, but this isn’t the NBA.” — Kiper

No, I swear to god. That’s an actual quote, per PFT.

“Things came easy to Cam Newton (at Auburn),” he added. “I hope he doesn’t think they’ll come easy in the NFL.”

“I see myself not only as a football player, but an entertainer and an icon.” — Cam Newton

That didn’t help his cause.

“A lot of criticism he’s receiving is unfortunate and racially biased.” — Warren Moon

The more things change

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at, a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at, Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Comeback Media, but his day gig has him covering the NFL nationally for Bleacher Report.

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