--Quarterback Cam Newton took some heat prior to the combine with his famous "icon and entertainer" comment. He ended up having to explain the intent of what he said, while insisting he realized football came first. Notably, the statement he made came on the day it was announced he had signed an endorsement contract with Under Armour.
Now comes word that the company has already planned for television commercials to air in August that will have Newton featured along with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Olympic standouts Michael Phelps and Lindsey Vonn. There will then be a print ad that comes out in the fall.
Gary Stevenson, a sports marketer that has worked with John Elway and Dan Marino, told the Charlotte Observer, "Until you've proven yourself as a legitimate player in the league, your credibility as an endorser is not automatic. If I was advising Cam Newton, I'd tell him to maybe do one or two indigenous endorsements with a shoe deal or something like that. But other than that, I'd focus on being the best quarterback I could be and trying not to divert any attention away.
"Because as the No. 1 pick he's going to make plenty of money. ... And if he is successful as a quarterback, he'll have all the marketing opportunities that he could ever dream of. If I was advising Cam, I'd say, 'Cam, the world is your oyster. You're a nice-looking kid. You speak well.' I think the kid's probably a good kid. I'd say focus on being a great player first. You don't need other distractions. Just focus on playing the game."
To that end, Newton has been working out at the IMG Academy in Florida with former quarterbacks Chris Weinke and Ken Dorsey. He also has a Panthers playbook.
Said Newton, "It's a lot of material that I do not know, but each day I'm going in and learning something. So by the time the lockout is lifted and I get a chance to talk to (offensive coordinator Rob) Chudzinski and (quarterbacks coach Mike) Shula and meet back up with the team, I'll be on top of my game."
--Wide receiver Steve Smith said he has not demanded a trade and that his goal is simply to be on a competitive team.
"I sat down with (general manager) Marty (Hurney) a lot of times prior to the lockout. I am respected as a veteran amongst the players as well as the front office," Smith told Pro Football Weekly. So there has been dialogue (about his future in Carolina) prior to the lockout.
"Do I expect to be traded? Really ... to be honest, I am not sure what to expect. That's the truth. Could I see a situation where I stay (in Carolina)? In my mind, I have played out every scenario: I could be moved, I could be cut, I could stay or I could be locked out. Honestly, my family and I are prepared for whatever steps are presented in front of us.
"Carolina might say, 'You know what? We're going in a different direction and we don't want you to be a part of that process,'" Smith said. "I am a big boy, and I am ready for that possibility."
--You'd think Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen would be battling to be No. 1, but actually both want to be No. 2.
Newton held up a jersey with a No. 1 on it at his introductory press conference Friday, but said his goal is to wear the No. 2 he wore at Auburn.
The problem is that's Clausen's jersey number.
"Um, I will try (to get No. 2)," Newton said. "But I understand there are different things that have to be taken care of and we'll see what we can do."
So, we'll have to see what happens.
Wouldn't it be interesting if the Panthers had Newton wear No. 1, Clausen No. 2 and Matt Moore No. 3?
--Newton said he received a congratulations text message from Clausen Thursday night after being selected first overall by the Panthers.
"He wished me luck," Newton said. "Just for a person to do that says a lot about his character and what type of person he really is. We had an interesting conversation about Charlotte. He said he was here and I was hoping I'd get a chance to meet him. I'm looking forward to not only meeting Jimmy, but a lot of other teammates."
Although Clausen was in the stadium Friday morning, the two young quarterbacks did not get a chance to meet.
--The Panthers plan to tailor their offense around QB Cam Newton once he's ready to go.
"When you look at his ability to run the football as a ball carrier -- and not just scrambling -- I think that impacts the way people approach him," coach Ron Rivera said.
Rivera said that will open things up for the team's running backs.
"If a defensive (player) wants to crash down the line of scrimmage, Cam can take a naked bootleg outside and make something happen," Rivera said. "And then if (the defensive player) honors him too much DeAngelo (Williams) will cut back on the backside and break it for a 60-yard gain. Those are the type of things he can bring and the intangibles you can count on. With his arm strength off a hard bootleg action he'll be able to throw the ball downfield."
--Second-round pick Terrell McClain comes from a military background. His father was in the Marines, his mother in the Navy.
That endeared him right away to coach Ron Rivera, who is the son of a military father.
"I'm a very disciplined kid," McClain said.
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.