Soup to nuts on the 'Cam Newton: Phony' story

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Soup to nuts on the 'Cam Newton: Phony' story

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
It's been a helluva week for Nolan Nawrocki. The reserved, respected draft analyzer for Pro Football Weekly and the author of their annual draft preview skewered the "intangibles" of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in this year's edition. I read it and wrote about it. Internet strongman Mike Florio of PFT linked to it. And away we went. First,Newton's quarterbacks coach George Whitfield weighed in with a failed Twitter takedown of Nawrocki in which he alleges Nawrocki has a rooting interest in seeing Newton fail and is trying toadvance his career with a negative review of the quarterback. That Whitfield is unaware of who Nawrocki is, the work Nawrocki's been doing for 10 years at PFW and, frankly, thatWhitfield didn't know before me what Nawrocki had written shows the quality of pre-draft advice Newton is getting. When Whitfield was done, Hall of Famer Warren Moon -- who's mentoring Newton -- stepped in. Moon embarrassed himself by alleging that criticism of Newton was rooted in racial bias. We're willing to give Moon a pass if he's oversensitive about how black quarterbacks are treated. He was a capable college quarterback at Washington that NFL teams wanted to convert into a tight end. Moon refused, went undrafted, fled to the CFL and became a legend. But he spoke ignorantly when saying to Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com, "I dont see other quarterbacks in the draft being criticized by the media or fans about their smile or called a phony. Hes being held to different standards from white quarterbacks. I thought we were past all this stuff about African-American quarterbacks, but I guess were not.Of course there is racism in every walk of society. Weve made a lot of progress in this country. But racism is still there. I just thought in the sports arena we were beyond it. I think the way Cam is being treated shows were not. . . . "As Florio points out, Moon need only recall all the way back to 2010 when Tim Tebow was getting mocked on the regular for being too pious, his convictions and motivations being constantly under scrutiny. Newton would need a month straight of that kind of treatment to even get close to what Tebow got. And Jimmy Clausen got devoured as well by Nawrocki on the same charges of being a phony. Moon went on to allege that neither Sam Bradford nor Colt McCoy got challengedlast year on their ability to run an NFL offense.Because they're white. "The thing that makes me laugh is the question of can he Newton come out of the spread offense? Can he run a pro offense? Colt McCoy came out of the spread offense and very few people raised that issue about him. So did Sam Bradford. Same thing. Very few questions asking if Bradford could run a pro offense. Some of these questions about Cam are more about his intellect. It's blatant racism, some of it."From Nawrocki's 2010 evaluation of Bradford: "Has not played much under center, operating heavily out of the shotgun, nor has made pro-style, NFL reads in OU's simplified offense."

From Nawrocki's 2010 evaluation of McCoy: "Played in an overly simplified offense that did not force the QB to learn the position and needs to be trained in the mechanics of dropping back from under center."One guideline for alleging racism is being sure you're right. Otherwise, it's obvious you're merely assuming the guy has it out for you because he's a different color than you which is . . . ta-dahhhh! racist. (Meanwhile, Ryan Mallett must be relieved he's white, otherwise Nawrocki might have written something nastier than "immature, is not a respected leader and character must be evaluated very closely" -- to say nothing of what others have alleged about Mallett). One last thing on this, it's amazing to me how news moves in 2011. A blogger named Lance Zierlein wrote, "(I)believe that the editors of PFW leaked Nolan's evaluation in order to draw attention to their product. I'm certain that was the case. And it worked. That wouldn't have been Nolan Nawrocki's call."Since the snowball started rolling with my blog, I can tell you it was the weakest "leak" you could imagine. After getting a complimentary copy on Monday of the PFW Draft Guide, I texted Eric Edholm, one of their writers and a pretty good friend to thank him for sending it because it's the best.He didn't seem to know it was sent to me, but said thanks. He told me to check out the Cam Newton evaluation. I did. My jaw dropped. I blogged. Then I e-mailed the link to PFT because we have a corporate relationship there and I'm personally friends with those guys. I knew a Cam Newton story was bigger news than just with my audience in New England. So Florio blogged it and the fire was lit. So, while Edholm told me to check it out, he didn't even know I'd been sent the copy. And had I not texted him, Edholm may not have alerted me to the scathing Newton review which, after I found on my own, I may have blogged on anyway. Or may not have. Interesting times we're in. Hope Nawrocki's wrong and Cam Newton has a wondrous career. But Nawrocki isn't wrong very often.
Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

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Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!

PLAY NUMBER: 4

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.
 

PLAY NUMBER: 3

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.