Cam Newton takes high road after heckling video, but other NFL players rip ‘disrespectful’ teen

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“Any young athlete watching this video please don’t be this kid,” tweeted Leonard Fournette, fresh off helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win the Super Bowl. “Don’t miss your chance to learn something from someone who has been their at the highest level in this sport. … STAY HUMBLE.”

The incident reportedly occurred Saturday at the NFA7V7 East Regional, staged in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Newton was there with three teams named for his signature line of Under Armour apparel: C1N Gold and C1N Silver, a pair of 18-and-under teams, and C1N Red, a 15-and-under squad.

Newton was on a sideline with some of his players — whose shirts bore the phrase, “Bless the babies” — as a player for another team yelled at him that the New England Patriots quarterback was “a free agent.”

When Newton, who has earned over $120 million just in NFL salaries, retorted, “I’m rich,” the youngster shot back, “You’re about to be poor!”

Newton, 31, then began to ask if he could speak to the boy’s father.

An official with the tournament could not be immediately reached for comment.

In an Instagram post Sunday, in which he shared further video of the back-and-forth, Newton wrote, “To me, talking to a ‘child’ with everyone looking does me NO good!! So instead of speaking or going back and forth with a CHILD I wanted to have a man to man conversation with his father!!”

He added, “As athletes that are often seen on TV, loved by most hated by some, people often forget we are real DADs, real FRIENDS, real BROTHERS, real SONS, REAL HUMAN BEINGS.”

Many NFL players who discussed the video online claimed that the former NFL MVP reacted much more calmly and maturely than they would have.

“To all the parents that bring their kids to fun camps, you let your son step into the box talking trash, there are no more age limits we will handle this like men,” tweeted former running back Reggie Bush, now a Fox Sports analyst.

“Cam handled that situation better than me,” former wide receiver Torrey Smith said on Twitter. “I’m pretty level headed but when it’s time to get petty I can take it to the floor.”

More than a few of Newton’s contemporaries expressed amazement and dismay that a child would choose to mock an athlete with his level of accomplishment.

“This is crazy,” tweeted Tennessee Titans linebacker Will Compton. “A Heisman winner, an NFL MVP, & a 10 year pro hosting a football camp, and instead of really trying to get something out of it — you clout chase for some weird attention. Kid should be kicked out and grounded indefinitely.”

“Man I wish I had NFL players at my 7 on 7. Let alone a player as elite as Cam Newton,” Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling said on Twitter. “Reality check, You got a guy who has reached every mile stone that we dreamed of as kids. You supposed to be picking his brain, being a sponge. Not a annoying fly that caused no damage to him.”

“He tried to be funny in front of his friends instead of asking a great like Cam, how to overcome adversity and be an MVP of a league that you have 1% chance of making,” said Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons.

Newton joined the Patriots last year after nine years with the Carolina Panthers, who made Newton the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft and were rewarded with a Super Bowl appearance and three Pro Bowl seasons, as well as the 2015 MVP campaign. In addition to winning the 2010 Heisman Trophy while at Auburn, Newton led the Tigers to a national championship that year.

Given a tall order in New England by having to replace Tom Brady while coming off foot surgery, Newton got off to a fine start when he averaged 7.30 adjusted yards per attempt with an 89.7 passer rating through the Patriots’ first three games. However, he then contracted the coronavirus, missed a game and saw his performance drop. Through the Patriots’ final 12 games, he averaged 6.15 adjusted yards per attempt with an 80.6 rating as the team finished with a 7-9 record. New England, which signed Newton to a one-year deal, could still try to bring him back, but it was reported in January that the Patriots are expected to part ways with him.

“I was one of the first football players to catch [the coronavirus], and it happened so fast,” Newton said recently (via the Boston Herald). “When I came back, that’s where the lack of an offseason and the lack of time in the system really showed itself. I was behind and I was thinking too much.”

Newton also said that part of the reason he waited over three months on the free agent market before landing in New England was that “I intimidate a lot of people.”

The teenager involved in the viral video appeared far from intimidated, but also far from deferential. That had some NFL players wondering about “kids these days,” as Panthers linebacker Jermaine Carter put it. Others pointed to the effects of being raised in the age of social media, which Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron declared allows young people “to say whatever with no respect.”

“It’s a legit frame of mind for a lot of this generation,” said former defensive end Chris Long. “That camera phone is a hell of a motivator + makes it easy for anyone to get that attention. Adults too, but these kids are coming up in it.”

“The next generation has been ruined by social media,” tweeted Broncos wide receiver Diontae Spencer. “What they don’t realize is that all these camps and recruiting circuits were created from athletes before them. RESPECT goes a long way. Keep your mouth closed and grind and maybe one day you’ll get to the level Cam is. Maybe.”

To Washington Football Team president Jason Wright, a 38-year-old former NFL running back, the video reflected the “inevitable byproduct of the [expletive] way we allow ourselves to treat each other on social media combined w/ a view of athletes as commodities to be traded and dealt dispassionately.”

Titans linebacker Davin Bellamy pointed out that the teenager may well have wanted to “go viral” but might not have considered the effect on his possible hopes in football.

“Thousands of coaches will see how disrespectful he is,” Bellamy tweeted, “& he just made it THAT much harder on himself!!”

To Newton, the whole point of his involvement with the C1N teams, based out of his hometown of Atlanta, is to help teens use their football talent to “get them to the next level and in most cases … OUT OF THE HOOD.”

In a January post, the C1N program claimed that participants over the previous nine years included Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup, New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Myers and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.

Noting Sunday on Instagram that he has given his “time, my energy and my expertise to these kids coming into our program for over 11 years,” Newton asserted, “The truth is, I impact kids’ lives in a positive way.”

To Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay, though, “Some Kids in this generation don’t appreciate the fact that Professional players are taking the time out to come out [and] show love [and] they have the nerve to act like that.”

“These moments don’t come around often, and when you have the opportunity to be around a man of Cam’s caliber, this is what you do!” tweeted former offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod, a Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion with the New Orleans Saints. “Kids, acting in this way will not help you succeed in life.”

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