The quarterback, a native of nearby College Park, Ga., spent about two hours on the feeding line, dishing out green beans to the homeless.
“I think more people really don’t even sit down and appreciate what Christmas really is until you have to go through that type of situation and see people that really don’t have nothing,” he said. “And for me to view that, man, it was just another reason for me to count my blessings.”
Newton got recognized a few times. Several people asked for pictures with him, but he didn’t want his newfound celebrity to get in the way of the real reason he was there.
“I had to step outside Cam Newton the athlete and step into Cam Newton the human being, the person that is very caring,” he said.
Newton said it cleared up a lot of misconceptions for him.
"These people aren't just average homeless people," he said. "These people have jobs. They have families. They have so many things that we have. But it's just something that the cards that they were dealt, they were just not lucky. These aren't just people on the side of the street with their hand out. These people are continually trying to help themselves. But sometimes they get the short end of the stick."
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And then read some more notes and quotes from interview with Newton and defensive coordinator Ted Roof:
- Newton, like Nick Fairley, said he hasn't submitted his name to the NFL draft advisory committee, which assesses where a player might be selected in the draft should he declare early. “I don’t think we got around to that,” Newton said. “Honestly, I’m not even really focused on that right now. I still have one game to accomplish and I think everything else will fall into place.” He doesn't have too much time to think about it after the BCS title game. The deadline to declare is Jan. 15, although players can withdraw their names by Jan. 18.
- Newton has gotten a haul of awards this offseason. He just hasn't received them yet. "I don't got nuthin'," he said. "People have been mentioning awards and this and this and that, so if you're out there and you're listening to this, I want my award." (He said this while pointing at the cameras. Jokingly, of course.)
- Newton's take on Oregon's defense? "This is one of the teams that has blitzed more than any team we have seen on film," he said. "Not only do they blitz but they have so many packages that can be very confusing for the opposing offense. They play so many people."
- Informed that offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has said Newton's footwork has gotten better, the quarterback said he never hears about it. "Coach Malzahn never tells me any of the good things, man. Never," he said. "This is always new to me to hear a positive from coach Malzahn, but without coach Malzahn I wouldn't be where I am right now and I think we all know that."
- Newton hasn't lost much in his career. The last one came a little over a year ago while at Blinn College. "Navarro Junior College. Halloween 2009. I'll never forget it. We lost by four points."
- Roof talked plenty about the pace of practice. How fast is it? "Fast," he said. (OK, glad we cleared that up.) But the important part comes in communication. "You've got to do that because you've got to get into a fatigue position and then you have to be able to function and communicate," he said. "That's what they do -- they limit your time to process formations and the pre-snap information that some teams give you. You have to process the information faster. You have to communicate. It's tougher communication. It's tough for communication and to get our guys to talk when they're uncomfortable."
- That puts some pressure on the coaches to be ready too. That means having calls in mind for the next play before it happens, something Roof, as a rule, likes to try to do anyway. "We're going to get quick calls to them," he said. "If you're waiting to get the perfect deal, they're going to snap the ball and somebody is going to be running free. A big deal is getting yourself alignment and everybody putting their eyes where they're supposed to be and everybody playing the same call. As elementary as that seems, that's a big deal."
- It helps to have senior Josh Bynes at middle linebacker. "His role and what he's done for us is really special," Roof said. "He's a guy who studies the game. He's a guy that keeps things, the poise comes from the middle. He keeps us poised on the field -- along with some other guys. To get everybody on the right situation. As a coach, I value that tremendously. He's an extension of us on the field."
- So Bynes thinks like Roof, right? "That would be kinda scary, huh?" Roof said. "I feel very fortunate to have coached him."
- Roof's heard the haters of his defense. He doesn't really care. "I could spin statistics to make things look one way," he said. "Somebody else could spin them to look another way. This is a bottom-line business. The bottom line is that we have to do what we have to do to win football games. Up to this point, we've done that. There were some games where people said: 'Wow, they played great.' The tape says: Eh. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle."
- The coaching staff has watched a ton of game tape. They started by watching from the start of the season to the finish. Then they do cut-ups, which organizes plays into situations. "You get an overall flavor of how they want to attack things," he said.
- That's a lot of plays to devour. Over 900 in fact. "They can do anything in games – they can’t do it all – but they can do anything," Roof said. "When you have this much time, you have to prepare for it all. That’s the good and the bad news with bowl games. Usually you do a four-game breakdown. You’ve got your 350-or-whatever plays, and you base your game plan on that. Now, we’re up to the gazillions. There’s good and bad with it. There’s a different theme for each game, and we’re just going to have to wait and see what it is and adjust to it and keep going."
- Roof thinks the exposure from being in the national title game has helped recruiting considerably. "It unlocks a couple of doors that were shut," he said.
- Granted, there are some tradeoffs. The Tigers essentially lost two weeks of recruiting (one during the SEC championship week and one next week, when they are in Arizona practicing). "I would trade a week of it if you’re playing for a championship any time," Roof said. "When you win championships, it helps your recruiting for the 20 high schools you could have been in because of the exposure you get and being a champion."