Cam Newton’s Heisman is a victory for fact over suspicions

Cam Newton won the Heisman by a wide margin but he was left off the ballot by 105 voters.

Auburn's Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy by a wide margin, but 105 voters chose to leave him off their ballot. (AP photo)

(Updated: 9 p.m. Saturday)

The problem isn’t just that some turned Cam Newton’s Heisman run into a morality play. The problem is how we’re judging morality.

His father tried to pimp him to Mississippi State for cash. So is this was supposed to be a vote for Cecil “Huggy Bear” Newton? Is a Heisman vote suddenly not for the student-athlete but for his father, mother and maybe third cousin? Because if that’s true, clear the trophy case. Start with last year’s winner, Mark Ingram, whose father has been in jail for most of the last 10 years for money laundering and bank fraud.

Cam Newton purchased a stolen laptop when he was at Florida, then panicked and threw it out the window when he heard police footsteps. Big mistake, for which he paid a price (public humiliation).

There have been stories of him being on academic probation at Florida. Sorry, but does this put him in some exclusive company in major college athletics that I’m not aware of?

As someone who makes his living in the world of opinion, it nonetheless astounds me how opinion so often trumps fact today.

Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy Saturday night. Maybe you don’t like it but it was the only choice that made sense.

Newton’s 2,263 points were far head of the next closest competitor, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck (1079).  But 105 voters out of the 886 returned ballots left Newton off their ballots. For the holier-than-thou voters who want to point to the word “integrity” in the Heisman’s mission statement and yell, “Aha!” — fine. The laptop incident and academic issues at Florida two years ago at the age of 19 prove that Newton is flawed. Welcome to a very large club.

Warrick Dunn, here delivering a new home to Janice Cantrell, is a pretty fair judge of character.

Warrick Dunn, here delivering a new home to Janice Cantrell, is a pretty fair judge of character. (AP photo)

Question: Do Heisman voters hold every candidate to that standard every year, or is this just a new policy of theirs?

But to those who chose not to vote for Newton for the Heisman based on what they think he knew or they think he did or they think he took during recruiting, I would suggest they try peddling that in a courtroom and see where it gets you.

“They’ve done their investigation and the NCAA says he’s in the clear right now,” Warrick Dunn said Friday. “If they say he’s eligible, he’s eligible. People need to just let it go. He deserves whatever he gets.”

Dunn, the former Falcons running back, didn’t win the Heisman when he was at Florida State (he finished fifth in 1996). But he’s in New York with Newton this weekend to accept the Heisman Humanitarian Award for his long-standing.

“Home for the Holidays” program and the work of his foundation.

Few athletes in history have commanded as much respect on and off the field. So his opinion carries some weight.

When asked about Newton as an Auburn quarterback, Dunn said: “He’s resilient. Mentally tough. To be able to focus and stay on course during all of this says something about his character. He’s been able to separate the nonsense off the field with what he has to do on the field. It shows he’s strong mentally.”

As for Newton’s Heisman candidacy, Dunn was bothered that it was even a question.

“They’re just not giving him his due,” he said. “You’re innocent until proven guilty. Most of this is about public opinion, not facts. People want the perfect student-athlete. There are no perfect student-athletes. When I went to college, most of us didn’t even know if we were breaking rules. What if somebody talked to us or gave us a ride or bought us a meal? We didn’t know. I think a lot of what’s happening to Cam Newton just goes back to the Reggie Bush thing [when he had the trophy taken away for NCAA violations].”

Newton overcame his early problems. He plays with pure joy. He lifted a college program like few ever have. He’s one bowl game away from completing arguably the greatest season ever by a college player. He has endured the darkest of clouds hanging over his head, beating Georgia just after the scandal broke, Alabama on the road after it mushroomed and then South Carolina in the SEC title game.

If evidence should come out that Newton knew something or took something, the argument changes. Take away the award. A lack of integrity will be confirmed.

It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s better than the alternative of disqualifying somebody on a hunch. We don’t convict people when we think they might be thinking of robbing a bank. That’s not enforcing morality. It’s a presumption of guilt.

– By Jeff Schultz


Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

681 comments Add your comment

Hillbilly Deluxe

December 10th, 2010
2:25 pm

Give him the trophy; they can always take it away later, if that’s what they want to do. They make the rules.

Brad in Jasper

December 10th, 2010
2:25 pm

Agreed. Well said, Jeff.

Not Disappointed

December 10th, 2010
2:26 pm

Great Read Jeff!

RJ

December 10th, 2010
2:29 pm

RJ

December 10th, 2010
2:30 pm

RJ

December 10th, 2010
2:31 pm

Newton then turns in a paper he bought off the internet

http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2010/11/foxsportscom_says_auburn_qb_ca.html

Yep Warrick he is innocent

Jackets2010

December 10th, 2010
2:31 pm

Good column and logic Jeff. Probably won’t matter to those who do not know the difference between hearsay evidence and evidence acceptable to a court. Hearsay has no proof behind it and is almost always lies.

dean

December 10th, 2010
2:31 pm

What was that movie? You got arrested for Future Crimes.

ol' balls coach

December 10th, 2010
2:31 pm

Thanks Jeff.

dean

December 10th, 2010
2:32 pm

Oh yeah. I would have voted for Newton.

Hopeful dog, worried dog...

December 10th, 2010
2:34 pm

I sure hope Florida doesn’t lure Mark Richt down to Gainesville to replace Urban Meyer. I hear Richt is really getting some great recruits this year and will definitely win the SEC championship next year. If only those darn Gators don’t get him……

Jackets2010

December 10th, 2010
2:35 pm

The number of folks who cheat in college and high school is a long list. I’ve witnessed teachers “cheat” for their pet students which is never punished. I like to see all the judgmental folks judged by their own high standards. Then they would be in a real fix.

ldawg121

December 10th, 2010
2:37 pm

A 19 year old student athlete with flaws ?……no way !…….please remember this next time a UGA teenage student athlete is given a ticket for driving with a suspended license or some other minor offense instead of making it a front page story implying otherwise

RxDawg

December 10th, 2010
2:39 pm

I still think they’re guilty. Did you see the ESPN interview? Cam doges questions and doesn’t flat out deny it.

Old Dawg

December 10th, 2010
2:41 pm

Great column, Jeff. Does that give me your Ipad (wink, wink)?

Always enjoy your work and miss your picks column once the football season is over. Enjoy your holidays!

Innuendo

December 10th, 2010
2:47 pm

RJ – If he truly cheated, and was up for explusion, why didn’t UF notate his academic records or block them when he decided to transfer with the intent to avoid explusion? If they had done either Cam would not have been able to transfer to Blinn Jr College or Auburn. Perhaps the answer to that question is that all of those stories are fabricated – if not, than I think there’s a much bigger story than just Cam Newton cheating.

Mike Adams

December 10th, 2010
2:47 pm

Shultz,
So now all of a sudden you’re the guy with no morals. If the majority of college students receive stolen laptops and cheat on test, its OK they have served time by humiliation. That’s not bad, I’ll tell my kid to go ahaed and cheat and if you get caught shame on you. If you believe this to be true, then don’t you think you have humiliated Mark Richt enough. Why the change of heart? You think its time to fire CR becauce his boys drink and some get caught. You may not have gone to college, but the majority of college kids drink and they are not even 21. Surprise! Does that make it wrong or OK. Why is Pete Rose not in teh hall of fame…….? The same reason Cammie doesn’t deserve the Heisman! Cammie Newton does not deserve the Heisman because he’s a cheat and a thief and his character along with his “Pimp Daddy” will be gone from college football after 1/10/11. Hip hip horrah!!!

IT'$ ALLLLLL ABOUT THE MONEY!!

December 10th, 2010
2:47 pm

SPIN IT HOW YOU WILL OR MAY JEFF…………………..HE’S A SOCIOPATH & IS NOT WORTHY!!! PERIOD!!!!

Andy

December 10th, 2010
2:48 pm

I agree that he’s innocent until proven guilty, but it’s hard to ignore the circumstances that have surrounded his college football career.

slippery slope

December 10th, 2010
2:48 pm

To heck with integrity,

give Reggie Bush back his Heisman Trophy.

Matt Stafford

December 10th, 2010
2:49 pm

Drew,
What were you thinking bud???

Thayerhater

December 10th, 2010
2:49 pm

RJ= Thayer Evans.. RJ, Just because FoxSports reports it, doesn’t mean it is a fact.

Jackets2010

December 10th, 2010
2:51 pm

I wonder how many past stars got a hundred dollar handshake?
A legal way to cheat was lining up good summer jobs for football players.
Lots of universities including GT have probably done that.

Innuendo

December 10th, 2010
2:53 pm

Pete Rose is not in the Hall of Fame because he was proven to have gambled on baseball (as well as personally admitting to it). This is unlike the Cam situation which is filled with rumor, speculation, anonymous sources, opinion, and I suspect more than a little bit of wishful thinking. Also, with the Cam situation, whether you like their decision or not, the NCAA, after reviewing all of the evidence, found Cam eligible to play.

RJ

December 10th, 2010
2:54 pm

Thayerhater
You’re right. Thayer made up the police report, made up the story about academic cheating and made up the Cecil Newton pay for play scheme and then somehow convinced Auburn to declare Newton ineligible.

Jackets2010

December 10th, 2010
2:54 pm

I’m just curious if he played for your team if u would feel the same way.
Some might but a lot of fans would flip flop their argument.
And if he played for Ga, the Auburn people would be all over the dawgs making a lot of the same arguments dawg fans have lately.

NOT SO WELL DONE

December 10th, 2010
2:56 pm

Scammed by Cam. Suckers.

Vain Jangling

December 10th, 2010
2:57 pm

Yeah, it’s true that Cam Newton is the best college football player to come around in a long, long time. And the guy is vilified in large part only because he plays for the other guy’s team. If I was an Auburn fan, I’d be as happy as a hog in slop. [insert banjo music here, and break out the double entendres]. But it’s also true that Newton comes across as a poster child for all the “Hey, look at me” athletes of the world. All that prancing around the field after the game, blowing kisses, and soaking up the adulation of “his” fans is nauseating. Hey guy, act like you’ve been there before. Plus, a small dose of humility in the face of all the controversy surrounding him would have gone a long way toward evening his public perception. Instead, he comes across like a man that has dodged a big bullet, but insists on running back out in the middle of the firing range carrying a target. And something tells me that about $40 million of guaranteed money coming his way next year is just not going to make him any more palatable.

Innuendo

December 10th, 2010
2:58 pm

Slippery slope – where’s the integrity of these reporters who continue to base their opinion on nothing more than anonymous sources and unsubstaniated rumor? If they actual evidence that proves all of this is true why doesn’t the NCAA have it yet? I can’t imagine if they had a shred of substantiated evidence that tied Cam to this pay for play scheme that the NCAA wouldn’t have found Cam ineligible. They do not want another Reggie Bush situation. You also forget that with Reggie there was evidence of a lengthy money trail.

Jackets2010

December 10th, 2010
2:58 pm

If you hate Auburn, you hope something else turns up.
If you love college football and hope the young man has turned himself around with maybe better supervision and advisement, you hope there is nothing else.
I am wondering if some dawg fans aren’t angry about Fairley and letting the emotion of that influence them about all things Auburn.

Chipu DaWG

December 10th, 2010
2:58 pm

OK, I respect Dunn’s opinion, but please, to say CN did not know what his father was doing is almost as disgusting as what his father was doing.

No way I vote for him. He and his family are just Reggie Bush without the money and perks.

FALCONS SORRY

December 10th, 2010
2:59 pm

MV7 SHOULD HAVE WONE THE HIESTMAN TEN YEARS AGO BUT THAT NOODLE ARM DANNY WAFFLE BEAT HIM OUT CAUSE HE HAD STEVE “I DIDN’T PAY NO ONE NO MONEY TO PLAY FOR FLORIDA” SPURRIER AND I WILL NOT ROOT FOR THE FALCONS UNTIL THEY CUT MATTY THE NOODLE LICE ATLANTA TURNED THEY’RE BACKS ON MV7 AND LOOK AT HIM NOW HE IS IN PHILLY LOOKING DOWN ON ATL AND LAUGHING HIM SELF DIZZY HAVING AN SURE LOCK MVP SEASON HE IS GOING TO BE AN AUTOMATIC LOCK IN CANTON SOME DAY AND MATTY LICE WILL BE LUCKY TO WIN A PLAYOFF GAME WHERE MV7 HAS ALREADY PROVED HIMSELF A PLAYOFF WINNER AND MATTY HAS PROVED TO BE A PLAYOFF CHOCKER AND LOOSER ATL SHOULD BE SO LUCKY TO TRY AND SIGN MV7 WHEN HE IS A FREE AGENT AFTER THIS YEAR IF HE CHOOSES TO LEAVE REID AND PHILLY WHERE THEY HAVE WELCOMED HIM WITH OPEN ARMS WITH A HEROS WELCOME AND ATL JUST SHOWED HIM THE DOOR AFTER SELLING OUT THE DOME FOR 5 YEARS AND ALL MATTY LICE HAS DONE IS HAVE HIS LOVER AUTHER BLANK USE GIMMICKS TO FILL THE STADIUM LIKE FREE MATTY RYAN LICE DAY TO GET PEOPLE TO COME IN YOU WAIT AND SEE FOR YOUNSELF WHEN MV7 WILL COME TO THE DOME AND DESTORY THE SORRY FALCONS IN THE NFC CHAMPION SHIP GAME YOU BET I WILL BE THERE AND THAT DOME WILL GO CRAZY FOR MV7 LEADING THE CITY OF PHILLY TO THE PROMISE LAND WHILE MATTY LICE CHOKES IT AWAY FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROLL SISSY BOY

GIVE ME A BREAK

December 10th, 2010
3:00 pm

Jeff, why don’t you spend some time covering the student athletes that actually contribute positively to their school and community?

P. Bull Terrier

December 10th, 2010
3:02 pm

“We don’t convict people because we think they might be thinking about robbing a bank” – but we don’t simply declare someone innocent of a dozen other crimes because we don’t have enough evidence to decide if they actually did rob the bank.

I’m OK with giving Cam a pass on the pay for play issue unless/until it is proven that his family received money from Auburn, but that doesn’t mean that he also gets a pass on all of the other legal issues. Newton is the best athlete among the contenders, but he has more “integrity” related problems than all of the other candidates combined. Weighing the two factors together, Newton isn’t in the Top 3 for the trophy.

dap01

December 10th, 2010
3:04 pm

Jeff: Integrity is in the Heisman criteria. How was Cam even eligible with all of his background. Felon, academic cheating and 12 violation for traffic. Auburn, Florida and this column has no credibility.

What was Warrick Dunn have to do with this?

dap01

December 10th, 2010
3:05 pm

Jeff: You can’t be that dumb.

slippery slope

December 10th, 2010
3:05 pm

Was Cam somewhat cocky and rude to Mr. Hugh Green last night?

19th Nervous Breakdown

December 10th, 2010
3:06 pm

WOW!!
So now morality does not matter…. Or more succinctly, the way we judge morality. Lying, cheating and stealing are pretty much against the world renown cornerstones of morality (truth and honesty) in my opinion. And yeah, I’ve never stolen a laptop (or anything else that did not belong to me) and I never cheated on a test or paper.
Warrick Dunn?!?!? Really?? If I’m reading your column correctly, Dunn says something to the effect of, if he’d paid the agent back it would have gone away. UNBELIEVABLE. So it’s OK if you have enough money to make the problem go away or don’t get caught. (Nice life lesson.)
C’Mon, MAN! This is getting crazier by the column. Did the Heisman committee dispatch AJC writers to effect damage control??? Because from where I’m sitting, y’all are missing the mark badly.
Thanks, Jeff. I am really disappointed in all of you on this one. I think all of you should have sat this one out, because if/when it goes down, you are going to look pretty sad. Oh wait, it might not go down because Cammie will have mucho dinero next year and will be able to pay everyone to keep their mouths shut. NICE.

Waaaaahhh I'm a Sore Dawg

December 10th, 2010
3:07 pm

How’s that 49-31 working for ya whinny puppies? And that 6-6? What happened to that National Title? You predicted you win the Title and now you’re predicting Auburn will lose it. Keep dreaming and predicting. Seems the more you’re wrong, the more we win! WDE!!!!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ajc sports editor, Warrick Dunn, … , David D Mobley Jr, Jeff Schultz and others. Jeff Schultz said: Newton deserves Heisman, and Dunn has a word for critics http://bit.ly/h8ZX42 [...]

Jackets2010

December 10th, 2010
3:08 pm

Here is a great example of emotional hearsay evidence.
In 1962, a Georgia Tech player was injured by an Alabama player.
The real problem was the crummy face mask for skill players back then.
The extent of the injury depended on who you listened to.
I believe my family exaggerated the injury for decades to get me to hate Bama.
Why would Bobby Dodd reschedule Alabama in the eighties if the injury was so terrible?
The final proof for me that my family had been lying was last year’s GT/VT game. At halftime the player was introduced and not only that, the program revealed he had played 5 or 6 years in the pros.
The “terrible” incident probably was great preparation for what life in the pros would be like.
There wasn’t an elbow thrown just every week at you back then. You had to dodge one every game.
I thought at that halftime I’d been had.
Tech fans will now probably argue this situation all over again.
Well then Dodd was a fool to play them again.

atlvol55

December 10th, 2010
3:08 pm

Jeff:

Its my fault. I was the one who decide to read this article. I find it amazing how many sportscasters and writers now act like Cameron Newton is Mother Teresa.

Listen, just because the NCAA cleared him doesn’t mean

A. He is innocent
B. They just don’t have enought evidence, yet.

I’m not saying Newton is guilty or not guilty, but the guy clearly has had some character issues in the past. I’m tired of sportscasters and writers now trying to talked down to us listeners and readers like we are children.

Let me ask you Jeff; do you believe O.J. was innocent?? Of course not, everyone knows he was guilty; yet is was found innoncent, right. Now that is a whole another argument.

All I am saying is that while Newton shouldn’t necessarily be bashed right now; I’m not going to praise the kid either.

Funny how Bruce Pearl invites a couple of kids over for a barbecue and lies about it and has been attacked like he raped someone. Where is the forgiveness there??

HMMMM

slippery slope

December 10th, 2010
3:08 pm

Was not Cam sort of cocky and rude to Mr. Hugh Green last night ?

Boobie Bowden

December 10th, 2010
3:09 pm

For all those dawgs spinning the conspiracy theories. You are right. The world does hate the dawgs. Deal with it or get counseling.

DannyBoy

December 10th, 2010
3:09 pm

Hey Mr R.J., You keep posting links to Cam Newton’s alleged wrong doing. Why don’t you post some of your own dirty laundry? Are you living in a life filled with jealousy and selfishness and simply hate seeing others succeed? I myself think that Cam accomplished what he did due to the awesome players around him, in large part.Any “decent” quarterback could have those numbers with the protection Cam had. Look at the film. Auburn has an awesome offensive line that enables Cam to make those plays. You will also see Cam overthrowing receivers regularly. All i’m saying is, let’s deal with facts. Let’s deal with what happened on the field and only worry about the rest when, or if, it can be proved. Until then, leave the man alone. He’s not liable for his greedy dad’s mistakes.

P. Bull Terrier

December 10th, 2010
3:10 pm

Look, Falcons Sorry is out of jail and back on the message boards.

Vixzilla

December 10th, 2010
3:10 pm

It seems you and Mark Bradley agree on this one. I’d agree with you as well but then we’d all be wrong. This trophy DOES represent morality and specifically integrity. If you think he played the game this year with excellence you would be 100% correct. If you think he did so with integrity you would be wrong. Both are the mission of the Heisman. So – If we want to award this to the best college football player, it is indeed Cam Newton. Just take the damn work “integrity” off the trophy please.

Chris

December 10th, 2010
3:11 pm

If this had happened at Georgia, Shultz and Bradley would have wanted the school shut down.

Nice for Newton.

Jackets2010

December 10th, 2010
3:11 pm

Bruce Pearl seems like a good guy and better coach.
Wasn’t part of his problem the delay in reporting his infraction?

TONE

December 10th, 2010
3:11 pm

How many dads / moms/ grandparents will be offered big money if there baby comes to this certain school in the next month or so before the ncaa has a chance to change the wording of the rules ?
over/under anyone
every time there is a major recruit that decommits or flip flops in the next little while this will be what comes to the fans mind that lose the recruit .
this is gonna be a fun recruiting year especially if one to the blue chips messes up during an interview with a pretty little reporter and says well the money was just to much .