In addition to lecture halls and weight rooms, Cam Newton saw a lot of Interstates 85 and 20 this offseason.
The Panthers’ third-year quarterback spent several weeks shuttling between Charlotte and Auburn, where he resumed coursework for his sociology degree.
At his “school pride” event with more than 700 middle school students Tuesday at Memorial Stadium, Newton said he didn’t want to be a hypocrite by discussing the importance of education without a college diploma.
“For me to have my motto (be) “everyone learns and graduates” ... I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t practice what I preached,” Newton said. “So it was very big for me.”
Juggling class with the Panthers’ offseason workout program made for a busy schedule. But Newton said he wanted to be at Bank of America Stadium as much as possible when voluntary workouts began in April.
“Showing my face only two or three times a week for my teammates to see, but at the same time going back to school was important,” Newton said. “I was trying to stretch my appearances out to a degree. Being here in Charlotte, then driving back to Auburn, then driving back to Charlotte on multiple weeks was very challenging.”
Newton indicated he dropped a few pounds this offseason while working out with a personal trainer in Auburn. As for the Panthers’ offseason program, Newton said he was pleased to see new receivers Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn at the workouts.
“Those guys have been making an impact already in OTAs (organized team activities), coming with a mind frame to work,” Newton said. “And having the mentality, the outlook we have had with people showing up to OTAs, really meant a lot to this organization and also to the coaches.”
Newton said returning to school following a two-year layoff was rough. Newton, who took his final exams last week, said his toughest class was criminology.
“It was very challenging this semester to go back to school, being that I was out of school for two years. Being in a controlled setting where you just can’t leave when you want to as many times as you want (or) blurt out whatever you want to blurt out,” he said. “You had to go in class with a nice frame of mind, be able to take notes and turn in assignments.”
Newton said in February that he was a semester and a half short of completing his degree. Auburn was Newton’s third school, following stints at Florida and Blinn College, a two-year school in Texas.
Eighth-graders from 38 CMS middle schools participated in the first school pride day, sponsored by Newton’s charitable foundation. Students had to meet certain academic, attendance and behavioral criteria to be eligible.
School teams rotated through 10 recreation and academic-themed stations, including a relay event overseen by Cecil Newton, Cam’s father. Newton walked from station to station, jumping into a “Simon Says” game and yelling encouragement at students.
“Today is a way to reward kids that are doing everything the right way,” he said.
Newton, who filmed a TV spot last year for the NFL’s Play 60 health and fitness campaign, said the goal is to get kids moving.
“We want kids nowadays to go out, become sweaty, come back in the house stink(ing). That’s a good thing,” Newton said. “Take the Xbox away, PlayStation games, Cube, PS Vita, the Windows Surface, everything, and just get outside and play. That’s what today’s all about.”