This entire saga really got rolling on Tuesday as Bruce Feldman among others reported that Cecil Newton was on the list of folks Auburn submitted as probable Heisman Trophy attendees. Then we saw columns like this one from Scarbinsky pop up as people took their stance against Cecil Newton. It all came to a head Thursday before the Home Depot College Football Awards as ESPN released their Cam Newton interview and word leaked that Cecil Newton was not going to attend the Heisman presentation (here's Cecil's official release).
So congrats folks. Pat yourselves on the back. Seriously. Good job. You won. You really did. You just won the small victory you were hoping for since you didn't get the "Cam is ineligible" Holy Grail you were dreaming about.
I really hope you're happy, because you won.
What'd you win?
-You won in taking away a special moment from Cam Newton.
-You won that sense of satisfaction I'm sure you're relishing in "punishing" Cecil Newton for his wrong doing.
-You won the right to keep making your tired old "I guess $200,000 ..." jokes.
Cecil Newton looking for cash, for whatever reason it is, on the back of his son is not good parenting. In fact it is bad parenting. Real bad. Let's get that all out now because I don't think there's a soul out there who is going to disagree with that point.
But folks this isn't about whether or not Cecil did something wrong. This isn't about how you feel towards the ruling. It isn't about if you hate the SEC or Auburn or Cam Newton. It isn't even about whether or not you think Cecil was wrong OR what "degree" of wrong you would place this at in the spectrum of wrong doing. It's not about any of the justifications that you can use to make your grandiose statements on decorum or "what you hope would have happened" or "what should have happened" in this situation.
It's not about you. It's not about me. It's not even about Auburn or the SEC or college football in general. This is simple. This is about a boy and his dad. Cam Newton and Cecil Newton. A father and a son.
More importantly it is a son that still very much loves his father. A son who trusted his dad so much that he let him make his college decision for him. A son that clearly still believes in his dad and most importantly is not ashamed or afraid to make it known publicly that he still "unconditionally" loves his father, Cecil Newton.
Perhaps if it was Cecil Fielder who was attempting to force his way into his son's big moment I could understand wanting the father to stay away.
However, that's not what we have here. We've got a dad who screwed up in a bad, bad way. We've got a son who has had this play out publicly but still loves his father. We've got the biggest award a young man in the world of college football can possibly receive. And we've got a dad that cannot attend.
Not because the son doesn't want him there. Not because he doesn't want to be there. Not because of family issues or a time conflict with work or the inability to go financially.
Cecil Newton isn't able to go because the heat is too hot. Because just his presence might draw attention away from Cam Newton's special moment. But how? He's just a dad who is going to sit there in the crowd the way every other dad of every other Heisman winner has sat there. Likely holding his wife's hand. Clapping at the right times. Standing at the right times. Seeing his son walk up on stage to lift that 25 lbs piece of hardware. Perhaps even tearing up should something touch his heart. No other dad has been "too much of a distraction" to attend the ceremony. The pops all do the mini-interview during the night and things run smoothly, so why is Cecil any different?
Oh yeah, the controversy. The NCAA ruling. The amount of people who are so butthurt by it all that they have this burning desire to take a special moment for Cam, the uncontested Heisman Trophy favorite, and make it about their "quest for answers" instead of about the kid.
Yes, I'm whining to a point. I find it to be pathetic that so many people place their own "we need to really push this" agenda ahead of enjoying watching a 21 year old young man enjoy his moment in the limelight. It isn't about you. This is about Cam and the rest of the Heisman finalists. This is for them and their families. We get to look into their night through the window of television but this isn't about us.
If Cam loves his dad the way he says then this has got to hurt. Knowing the man who has been at all of your games, watched you tear up high school fields all over the Atlanta area, the man who sat in the stands knowing you weren't going to play meaningful minutes at Florida can't be there because of the public's agenda has to suck outloud.
Perhaps you'll say "Cecil Newton brought it upon himself when he shopped his son around to Mississippi State." One the most basic level you're right. Cecil Newton's actions did create the controversy.
However, I go back to who is actually affected. If Cam, the person who is the most affected by this entire ordeal, can love his father and wants him there shouldn't that be enough? How is it that people who are wholly unaffected by this are more adamant about Cecil not attending than folks at Auburn or the Newton family?
Cecil Newton is a husband, a father but at his core he is a man. Man is fallible, Cecil Newton proves this through his actions. He made a terrible decision, a decision that could have stopped his son from reaching his goals, a decision that ultimately could have been a lot worse if the dominoes had fallen another way.
Now maybe your dad is perfect. Maybe you are the person with a dad who made all of the right moves. The dad who didn't work too much but still earned enough to give you all wanted and needed. Maybe you had the dad that didn't travel too much on business but still was great at his job. The dad who didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't gamble, who wasn't a slave driver but who also wasn't too lenient. The dad who never made a mistake. The dad who never screwed up.
I didn't have "that" dad. My dad wasn't perfect.
Maybe that's why I can't identify with all of you who had the perfect father who never did anything wrong who feel like your opinion on Cecil Newton matters more than Cam's. I personally can't identify with making Cecil Newton a bigger story than Cam winning one of the most coveted awards in all of sports just because you think it should be.
I can identify with Cam Newton though and not just because we're part of the little ear brotherhood. I can identify with being frustrated, angry, disappointed and perplexed by your father but in the end knowing that you love that man. Regardless of the mistakes and errors in judgement my dad has made I'm still proud to be Michael Felder Jr. I still love my father.
Before you go into the "yeah but your dad never shopped you around for $200,000" let's be clear. Much like I don't know what your dad has done, you don't know what my father has. Some folks dad's have done less. Some folks dad's have done more. This isn't about putting a grade on what it is "okay" to forgive a father for. Everyone's threshold is different. My brother and I handled the same situation differently so how in the hell can you expect Richie from Portland or Karen from Dallas or Jim from Boston to handle the situation the same as Cam Newton from College Park?
The point ultimately is, this is an award ceremony. That means it is about the participants not the audience. If Cam loves his father and wants him to be there that should be enough. I cannot imagine winning anything and my father not being there.
He's the guy who drove around town to make sure I got signed up for football as an elementary school kid. He's the guy who drove across town to get me the Air Attack 2 bat that I wanted. He's the guy who sprinted through an airport to catch an earlier flight to make it home from a conference to tell me good luck before a regular season high school football game. He's the guy that still tears up thinking about hearing Woody Durham call my name out as a UNC freshman for "Meet the Heels Day."
My dad has made his mistakes but he's still my dad. It doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks of him because quite frankly I don't give a damn. I love him, he's my dad.
Cecil is Cam's father. It doesn't really matter what any of you all think because that's his dad. It doesn't matter what you feel about Cecil or how you would react to his actions if they happened to you because they didn't. They happened to Cam. If he loves his dad that's all that should matter. If he wants to enjoy his special moment with his father that's all that should matter.
And if you don't think having your father there matters check this out:
I'm 26 years old. I see my dad maybe once a month or so mainly because we live in the same city. That said, I still call or text my dad every single Friday at 4:10 before I do Fox Sports 730 so he'll listen. I still ask my dad what he thought about the articles I write. I still send my dad links to guest radio spots or appearances that I've done because even at 26, even after everything we've been through my dad is still my biggest fan and that matters to me.
I think that matters to Cam Newton too.