Cam Newton is undeniably having not only a rookie of the year-type campaign, but one that will probably find him on a Pro Bowl roster. His naysayers are certainly eating their words as Newton has been shredding NFL defenses like they were SEC bottom-feeders. Prior to the season, he sat down with Interview Magazine to talk about the major differences between the pro and college game. You can see an excerpt below and read the entire thing here.
How are you feeling after last night’s game?
Everything’s good. Of course, I didn’t get to win, so that bothered me, but it’s just the preseason and I’m still learning. I’ll watch the film, learn, and hopefully I’ll get better. I’m not going to rush anything.
I know it’s very early on in your career, but what differences have you found between college and the NFL?
The defense’s velocity, man—everybody’s so fast. You see yourself running around out there, getting chased by 300-pound linemen . . . In college, typically, you can run faster than those guys to get yourself out of trouble, but I don’t think I’ll be able to get out of it like that now. [laughs] It’s their job! In college you had to worry about that math class or this exam that’s coming up on Tuesday, but not in the professionals. You eat, sleep, and do everything related to your craft—and your craft is football. You can be at it from sunup to sundown.
I see—no distractions. So as you’re moving into the season, what are you focusing on?
I’ve got to grow up fast. You’re not talking to freshmen anymore. You’re not trying to get them on board, saying, “Hey, man, let’s get out there.” Now you’re talking to grown men, and they’re like, “Man, I gotta get my kids outta daycare,” and “I gotta take my wife out to dinner.” It’s different. It’s real. You don’t have to motivate them as much. I’m working on understanding my role.
You’re only 22 years old and you’re suddenly in a very intense leadership position. Is that intimidating?
Ummm . . . Not really. That’s just something that comes natural in a person. The hard part is that you’re always in the spotlight. Oftentimes I see myself on TV, and it’s like, “Man, what have I become?” I used to hope I was gonna be on TV, hoping people would see me playing football. Now, I’m being critiqued at the highest level—you know, “Cam didn’t do that right. He didn’t do this right.” Which is fine, but there’s no off switch. If I go downstairs right now and cuss out somebody, it’s going to be on ESPN tomorrow, you can believe that. That’s the difference.
You feel like you can’t make a move without being watched.
In this field, people know how much you’re worth—meaning X amount of dollars, or that you’re on TV this much. You have to respect that you are not regular anymore. And when I say “regular,” I don’t mean that I’m better than you are, I mean that everybody’s watching. In this day and age, everybody wants to be that star. Of course, people are going to say, “He’s immature. He doesn’t deserve this.” But when people see you do alright, then you start winning their hearts. It’s not going to come easy, though. It doesn’t matter how many people you do right, you’re still going to be hated by so many others. You can’t live your life trying to make everybody happy.