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

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)