INDIANAPOLIS --- A few hundred credentialed media members surrounded the podium where Cam Newton was about to speak, before Newton even entered the room.
It wasn't clear whether the reporters gathered at the NFL Scouting Combine considered Newton an "icon," but they certainly seemed to expect entertainment, and the Auburn QB provided it.
He opened with a prepared statement explaining his reference to himself as "an entertainer and an icon," words that had set the NFL world abuzz with speculation over how being a football player might fit into that rubric.
"The recent comments were made during the announcement of my new endorsement partnership," Newton said. "I was making the point that I want to be the best possible ambassador for (Under Armour) just like I want to be the best possible ambassador for whatever team I am lucky enough to play for. I'm excited to compete in this league and you will see me doing everything possible to become the best player I can be," Newton said.
Newton, amazingly athletic and strong-armed, has a history that includes leaving Florida after accusations he stole a laptop, cheated on academics, and took items from teammates' lockers. He then was involved in an NCAA investigation of his recruitment by Auburn, focusing on allegations his father, Cecil, was looking to sell Cam's services to the highest bidder.
Newton was not interested in working through the details of those controversies today, because they are in the past, and he said he wants to focus on the future. One can be sure NFL teams' private interview questions will be less easily brushed aside -- especially he ones about the theft stuff.
Newton called his "icon" comments "somewhat misunderstood" but "my fault" for not making himself clear.
Newton said he will participate in all QB drills Sunday, and will work out again at Auburn's March 8 pro day.
"Football is my No. 1 priority. I want to make that perfectly clear," said Newton, who pledged to be the kind of quarterback who studies film diligently and does everything possible to improve.
There has been considerable debate about whether Newton will be the first player taken in the draft, but he seems likely to go in the top half-dozen, at least.
Newton referred to the NCAA probe as adversity he had overcome, as if it were a sprained thumb or something.
All in all, though, he seemed less defensive and more charismatic than Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, whose media session was painful to watch.