Skip to main content

Forget comparisons to Russell, Newton looks more like Big Ben

I hate to do it, but I have to take a trip up to Mt Pious. Generally speaking, I avoid setting foot upon the soil inhabited by the world's would-be puritans who relish nothing more than looking down on the rest of us so they can issue their self-righteous evaluations.

So what's the reason for my journey to the moral high ground? All the pessimistic forecasts for Cam Newton's career, that's what. Seems to me the vast majority of both personnel guys and pundits are predicting Newton will do for Carolina what President Obama's birth certificate has done for Donald Trump's credibility.

I'm with Warren Moon: all the doom and gloom surrounding Newton's pro prospects are at least vaguely racist. How do I know? Because, back in the spring of 2004, virtually no one had a bad word to say about the NFL quarterback Newton's game most closely resembles: Ben Roethlisberger.

Seems like it's easier for a lot of people to compare Newton to JaMarcus Russell because of the color of their skin and their respective big arms, but that's where it ends. Russell moves about as well as Y.A. Tittle. Y.A. Tittle today, that is.

Newton runs like Eric Dickerson. Eric Dickerson of 1984, that is. More importantly, Russell has shown no passion for being successful; Newton, conversely, is infectiously so. And I've never heard so much as a sniffle from Newton, so no need to worry about getting him any cough syrup.

I saw Deion Sanders take it in the other direction in an interview with Newton on Thursday. Primetime pointed out the negative scouting reports on white QBs like Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow, theoretically proving that personnel guys are equal-opportunity critics.

The thing Prime seems to be forgetting is, Mallett and Tebow deserve said criticism. Mallett moves about as well as Y.A. Tittle (hey, if an analogy works, why change it?). As for Tebow, his throwing motion looks like Tom Seaver pitching out of the stretch (only not as hard and with much less accuracy).

No, the most apt comparison, among current NFLers, is Roethlisberger. Consider: both can sling it, particularly outside the pocket. Both are bigger than most of the guys trying to tackle them. Both are exceptionally mobile (although Roethlisberger is much less a runner than he was five years ago). Both have some questions about their character. Both successfully ran the spread in college. (Why is this a negative, by the way? Have people noticed that the Packers, Patriots and Colts all run some variation of the spread?)

So is there any difference between the two players, other than the fact that one is white and one is black? Matter of fact, there is one, and it favors Newton. Whereas Roethlisberger played at Miami of Ohio, raising questions about whether his game would translate against better competition, Newton not only played in the SEC, he won the national championship, all while a tsunami of controversy crashed down on him and his family.

I can't say with certainty whether or not Newton will turn the Panthers into a winner, but that has more to do with the upcoming decisions the organization makes. Roethlisberger had the benefit of being drafted by a playoff-caliber team. I don't know if Carolina will be able to fix its wretched offensive line, or if the team will be able to add a couple decent pass-catchers, or if any incoming defensive players will respond to Ron Rivera's scheme.

What I am fairly sure of, though, is that Newton is gonna be very good. How do I know? Because I've already seen his fair-skinned pigskin doppleganger take his team to three of the last six Super Bowls.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.