Fair to note that Cam Newton's father, Cecil, has a somewhat dubious track record in plotting the path of his son's football career.
But when he started looking for somebody to mentor his Heisman Trophy-winning son on making the step to professional football, he could have done much worse than recruit Warren Moon for the duty.
Moon’s experience speaks for itself. He passed for more than 70,000 yards and 435 touchdowns in a 23-year career in the NFL and CFL. But coaching?
“Cam’s dad, Cecil, reached out to me and initially wanted me to train Cam myself,” Moon said. “I told him I didn’t have that kind of time.”
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So Moon steered him to quarterback tutor George Whitfield as an instructor for technique and mechanics. “I’m actually more of a consultant and advisor to the family, and a mentor to Cam as he makes this transition,” Moon said.
Moon is uniquely positioned to analyze the future of the quarterback position in our neighborhood, too.
Although Newton most likely will be drafted before the Seahawks’ 25th pick, Moon is a fellow Washington alum with Jake Locker, another potential first-round talent. And as radio commentator for the Seahawks, he’s seen every pass Matt Hasselbeck has thrown in recent years.
Moon obviously is familiar with impressive athletes as well as talented quarterbacks. But even he marvels at Newton, for whom the laws of physical motion apparently don’t apply.
“The first thing you notice is his physical stature,” Moon said. “He’s 6-6, 255 pounds. I’ve seen guys like that, but he’s big, agile, limber and really a great athlete, too.”
Moon has seen in him an attitude and mentality to match it.
“I see a kid who trains to be great; that’s what he’s all about, all he talks about, being great,” Moon said. “His work ethic is so unbelievable that, if anything, you have to try to slow him down and keep him from doing too much. You see how much he wants to work at getting better, not just on the field, but in the classroom, studying film.”
Newton’s questions marks, meanwhile, have been analyzed by every draft-watcher in the country. He played only one season at Auburn, and operated in an offense quite unlike what he’ll be asked to run in the NFL.
Moon pointed out that he, himself, ran widely diverse attacks in his career, and it was never an issue.
“He’s a highly intelligent kid who understands football, so he can learn any system,” Moon said. “That’s not going to be the biggest issue. I think he’ll be fine with the football part of it.”
The larger question is “answering those character issues that everybody has,” Moon said.
Newton’s eligibility at Auburn was investigated by the NCAA, which ruled that his father was in violation by soliciting improper inducements when Cam was a recruit. No evidence was found that Cam or Auburn were in violation.
Earlier, Newton transferred out of Florida after allegations of stealing a laptop computer and cheating on a test.
“That was when he was 18,” Moon said. “But those are the things he’s going to have to face up to and hold up to.”
The intense scrutiny may have had the unintended benefit of displaying his capacity to cope with pressure.
“He has the rare ability to block things out that are going on around him,” Moon said. “He had all those things going on last year, but every Saturday he found a way to block that out and play at the highest level possible. Everybody wondered when the kid would crumble, but he never did. He’s a young kid who can deal with adversity.”
Locker brings some similarities into the draft, Moon said. He’s also a supremely gifted athlete with speed and a strong arm. Character, though, is Locker’s greatest strength, and he played four years in college in more of a pro-style offense.
“The biggest question Jake faces, still, is accuracy,” Moon said.
Consistent footwork and a few other mechanical tweaks can help that, he said.
In workouts with Newton, Moon spotted a flaw in his transfer of weight during his passes.
“He had been throwing high, but when he made a small correction, he had a string of passes that were perfect,” Moon said.
In the case of Locker, Moon said it might be as simple as where his eyes focus during the pass – not at the receiver or at the pass, but at the point where the receiver will be when the ball arrives.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, face a transition, with veteran Hasselbeck becoming a free agent at age 35.
“I think they would like to have Matt back, but for how long?” Moon said. “And as a player, Matt may be looking for a longer-term deal than they are.”
Some balance of contract length and value will have to be reached, but, “Matt obviously knows that they have to find the heir apparent.”
“Matt’s been through a lot with injuries in his career,” Moon said. “But some guys can play a long time.”
Moon certainly did. Now he’s in the position of sharing what he learned with others trying to follow his path.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 firstname.lastname@example.org