SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — Cam Newton can relate to what Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel is going through.
And the Panthers quarterback said Tuesday he’s spoken to Manziel a few times this offseason about coping with the pressures of being a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback living college life in the limelight.
Newton wouldn’t discuss the specifics of the conversations, saying they are personal, just between him and Manziel.
But he said Manziel “has to go through these types of situations to know how to handle them in the future. When somebody comes up to you and asks for your autograph, you don’t know if they’re going to do it for good or bad” purposes.
Like Manziel, Newton was under media scrutiny at Auburn during an NCAA investigation into pay-for-play allegations. Newton was not found to have committed any wrongdoing and wasn’t suspended from any games.
“For any college athlete you are vulnerable to so many things,” Newton said. “You think everybody loves you for who you are.”
Newton said that was a tough lesson to learn while he was at Auburn.
“When I was there at college so many people wanted from me and I wanted to give so much,” Newton said. “Like I would sign this and give my time and this, this and that. And nobody was looking at it through my (eyes). If you say no to this particular person you are going to be a (jerk). You are going to be the person that people look at as, `What’s up? We came out here and supported you and cheered for you and you can’t sign an autograph?’ Never mind that you signed 300 other autographs before. But that’s the nature of the beast.”
Manziel has struggled to stay out of the news since leading Texas A&M to an 11-2 record and an upset win over No. 1 Alabama en route to becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman. The latest potential problem involves an ESPN report that the NCAA is investigating whether he was paid for signing hundreds of autographs last January.
If it is found that Manziel was paid for his autograph on memorabilia it could potentially violate NCAA amateurism rules and put his eligibility in risk.
Newton said he hopes “that everything works out in the best for him so he can get back to what he likes to do and that’s playing football.”