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My take on Cam Newton’s interview

The Redskins are once again involved in the discussion of quarterback prospects, and my story for this morning’s paper looks at their options in this year’s draft. As we’ve discussed, former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is at the center of that discussion. His group interview yesterday at the Scouting Combine was the climax of the media’s four days here in Indianapolis.

(Watch it here)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi_eC6Z-upQ[/youtube]

Teams are aware of Newton’s athletic prowess, so they’re more interested in learning about his character and determining whether he could be the face of their franchise. They’ll form their conclusions over the next two months from multiple interviews with Newton and those in and around his personal circle.

The Redskins started that process this weekend by meeting with Newton here at the combine, according to a league source.

Yesterday, we reporters at least got a few minutes to interact personally with the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Even though prospects rehearse these interviews, you can gauge how intelligently he speaks, whether he is poised and how personable he is.

Most notably, I found Newton to be unmistakeably charismatic. He was energetic and engaging with a bit of Southern charm. The repeated “sir” and “ma’am” were a nice touch. It is obvious that he is a marketable personality, and that’s important. Let’s not forget teams are in business here. (As if you could with all this lockout talk.)

Newton did not sound as smart as some of the other quarterbacks we met this weekend, such as Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert or Florida State’s Christian Ponder. Take his incorrect use of “due diligence” in this statement, for example:

“During this whole process with the whole NCAA, it’s been somewhat of me facing adversity. And I think I owe a whole lot of my due diligence to my supporting cast, my teammates, my coaching staff, my close friends, my family members and just people that has been available for me to talk to in the wee nights of the hour and just being available.”

But you don’t need to know what “due diligence” means to be a good quarterback in the NFL. That simply stood out to me, so I’m passing it on.

Newton deftly handled the questions about his numerous off-the-field indiscretions. Saying that he learned from his mistakes and that he wouldn’t make the same ones again was the right answer. Of course, those are just words. It’s up to the Redskins and other teams to determine if they’re true.

His references to himself in the third person made him seem self-absorbed. That doesn’t fit with the persona of a selfless leader. It appears to corroborate the “entertainer and icon” quote from last week that he insisted during his unnecessary opening statement was misunderstood by the public.

About the opening statement, though. That and the fact that he appeared to refer to notes throughout showed that Newton appreciated the magnitude of his media appearance yesterday. As a reporter, that made a positive impact on me.

I suspect some will say: ‘Who cares about the interview? All that matters is how he plays.’ My counter to that is that character impacts leadership, and leadership at the quarterback position directly impacts winning. I believe Mike Shanahan agrees.

I’m interested to hear what your impressions of Newton are after watching the video. Does it matter to you how he was perceived? Leave a comment, shoot me an email or hit me on Twitter @Rich_Campbell.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/redskinsjournal/2011/02/27/my-take-on-cam-newtons-interview/