Cam Newton: Former Auburn quarterback, an Auburn fan and now an Auburn graduate
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Cam Newton knows exactly what he's going to do with Auburn diploma.
"I'm going to put it right above my mom's door so she knows her words were not in vain."
Newton made a promise to his mom, Jackie, that he would graduate from college, even before he arrived as Auburn's quarterback in 2010, and has been true to his word. He'll graduate Saturday, though he won't walk across the stage because he says he doesn't want to the focal point and detract from the accomplishment of others.
Oh, he would be the show, as he has been as he attended spring classes the last few years, as the football hero who won a Heisman Trophy, who has a statue outside of Jordan-Hare Stadium and who helped Auburn win the 2010 national title.
"Every time I come to Auburn it's nothing but love," Newton said. "I understand what an Auburn man is about now, what the Auburn family is about now, and being able to say it with so much pride now, more than any time in my life."
And that diploma?
It'll go to his parents' home in Atlanta. "All my awards that mean the world to me are there. And this is no different. If anything, it's going right along next to the Heisman."
Newton says he won't attend graduation because doesn't want to take away from others.
"This university has been gracious," he said. "And I don't want to take anything away from the people who are graduating. My mom wants me to do it, but after seeing the response coming from class, coming back to class, you're doing this, you're doing that, I don't want to take anything from another person whose day it is."
Newton is graduating with a degree in sociology, which he plans to use when he's finished with his day job as the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers.
"I want to own my own daycare center," he said. "I think sociology has done so much great for me in understanding people and different attitudes, the study of people, and hopefully that will pay dividends in the long run."
Newton didn't need a degree to get a job. He's made big money with the Panthers and endorsements. So why bother?
"It crossed my mind a couple of times. It was always 'Cam, why are you coming back?'" he said. "As I get more educated about sociology, it's becoming more clear... shame on me if I don't use my influence in a positive way. That's something that was always preached to me by coaches, parents or family members. Somebody may look at my situation and say, 'He may be financially set, but, yet, he's bettering himself.' Maybe I can encourage somebody else that will be in my situation, or somebody who is down and out.
...always strive for a better you."
Newton said his mother insisted on that.
"Just like anybody else, the masculine father identity was making sure that everything on the field was good -- how I'm going to perform, how I'm going to do this. The typical father," Newton said. "But my mom's compassion was how I would be treated off the field.' Are you going to school for the right reasons. You're a student-athlete and you know you have to go about that accordingly.' Throughout the process, even before I knew what school I was going to go to after junior college, she wanted me to vow to her whatever school I do decide, I will graduate from."
Newton said he would.
"She was serious. And I was sincere."
Now, somehow, it's been four seasons, and soon to be five, since Newton played at Auburn. He says it "really doesn't" seem that long.
"There's so much I feel I owe to Auburn, because in my most vulnerable state of mine...so many people embraced me with open arms. That's something I will never, never take for granted for the rest of my life."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine