Cam Newton says it is time for him to fly off to the NFL. And this is how I’ll remember the guy, a big joyous balloon-like creature — because balloons make you smile — flying out of the light holding something that I’ll choose to think of as a popsicle stick. Because if balloon creatures make you smile, then a balloon creature bringing popsicle sticks is all the better.
By happenstance I was taking that picture at about the same time Newton was announcing his goodbyes.
Yes, yes. Cam Newton was at the center of a controversy that was either manufactured or so shady as to be disbelieved, depending on whom you believe. I don’t know, and you still don’t either. What is definitive is that he was a nice part of a renaissance of fervor in the Auburn community and he did nice things while he was here, too. All of that won’t soon be forgotten, I’m sure.
We’d told ourselves the last several years that Tim Tebow was one of the greatest to ever play college football. And he was. So was Cam Newton. Consider: the guy played on three national championship programs in a row at Florida, Blinn and Auburn. Statistically you can’t get much more gaudy than his 1,473 yards rushing and 4,327 yards in total offense for the year. His 51 (!!!) scores — 20 rushing, 30 passing and one receiving — are more than 80something teams in big-time college football manufactured this season.
He wasn’t Auburn’s entire team, but he alone was statistically better than most of what you could see on Saturdays. He broke records previously owned by men named Tebow and Bo Jackson and Jimmy Sidle.
(That last one stood for more than 40 years. Newton would pick up the AP Player of the Year, the Walter Camp, the Maxwell, the Davey O’Brien and the Heisman awards, all as a matter of course. Best ever? If he was not he was darn close.)
His teammate, Lombardi award-winning defensive bear-dragon Nick Fairley declared for the draft this morning. I can’t show a representation of him. Balloons can’t be twisted into savage rage machines. (He’s apparently a very nice young man off the field, though.)
So good luck to them, and all of their departing teammates, two dozen seniors in all. It has been a pleasure cheering you on and it’ll be nice seeing you when you return to the plain for a visit. War Eagle.
Kenny graduated from Auburn at the turn of the century. He worked in newsrooms across the region and then earned a master’s degree at UAB. He met and married a Yankee, who declared her Auburn allegiance at her first home game. She’s now on the faculty at Auburn. He’s finishing his PhD at Alabama and teaches at Samford University. See him online at www.kennysmith.org and @kennysmith.
If you haven’t read his emotional essay on the impact of this season, you should.
* Front page of Tuesday’s Oregonian
* Auburn fans light up Portland bridge in orange and blue
* Hero of Flight 29 leads “War Eagle” in Scottsdale riding mechanical bull
* Toomer’s Corner, the morning after
* Was Walt Disney an Auburn fan?
* AU fan possibly contributed to Courtney Love’s teenage delinquency
* Player on 1972 ‘Amazin’s’ squad battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease
* Montgomery Business that de-toilet papers Toomer’s busier than ever
* Auburn’s Miss Universe contestant, Audrey Moore
* Auburn amputee has tiger-striped prosthetic legs
* Model Molly Sims spotted at the Iron Bowl in an Auburn jersey