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Phillip's blog: The best ever

Tonight in New York City, the best college football player I’ve ever seen will win the Heisman Trophy. The balloting will be closer than it should be, but it won’t be close.

Phillip Marshall, Senior Editor,

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton won’t be remembered as the best player in college football or SEC history, because, in all likelihood, he’ll play just one season as a starter. He played one as a reserve at Florida.

But for one season, he’s been the best ever. Period.

It’s truly unfortunate that the second half of his season came to be more about allegations and investigations than remarkable plays and championships. But that doesn’t change what he did on the field – the laser beam passes, the spectacular runs, the leadership. It doesn’t change the sheer joy with which he plays the game.

Off the field, Newton has been far more gracious than the grown men who have taken such delight in assaulting the character of a young man they don’t know and have never met.

As a reporter covering Auburn, I don’t claim to really know the men who play. I’m not around them when they are away from the athletics complex, spending time with their friends or their girlfriends. I don’t know what is truly in their hearts. With any of them, all I have to go on is what I see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears.

I know what it means when two senior offensive linemen pick a quarterback up on their shoulders after winning the SEC championship. It means they respect him as far more than remarkable athlete.

From where I sit, Newton has been one of the more impressive guys to come through the Auburn program. In every case, he has deflected credit from himself to others. To do the Heisman pose on the field would completely foreign to him. He’s gone out of his way to be a good citizen and reach to the community around him.

Tonight, he’ll win the highest individual award a college football player can win. Will he be allowed to enjoy it like others before him? Almost certainly not, and that’s really sad.

In the name of “reporting,” he’ll yet again be asked more about his father than about his winning the Heisman Trophy, more about unproven allegations than very real accomplishments.

But no one will be able to get the smile off his face. And when it’s over, he’ll go back to Auburn and begin to prepare for what he wants most of all, to celebrate a national championship with his teammates.

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