INDIANAPOLIS -- Talk about a contrast in styles.
Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett, probably the two most physically-talented quarterbacks in the 2011 draft, came to the same podium one after another and left very different impressions.
Mallett, who has seen his draft stock hurt by allegations about his off-field behavior, was peppered with tough questions from the start of his press conference and mostly avoided them, telling reporters he would be talking to teams about the issue and not the press. But he came off as defensive and, given a chance to clear up rumors or speak up for himself, instead chose to duck any questions about his character.
Newton arrived a short-time later, preceded by a media rush to the podium and trailed by a train of cameras. He led off with an opening statement -- something veteran reporters said they could never recall -- intended to immediately defuse questions about his recent statements that he wants to be seen as an "icon," which led to concern that maybe his focus wasn't all on football.
He said he knows his obligation is to be the best football player he can be and blamed himself for any confusion around his comments. He said the "icon" quote came in the context of an announcement of his endorsement deal with Under Armour and that he only meant that he was hoping to be the best ambassador possible for the product he was backing. He called every questioner "sir" and generally drew in the audience with his evident charisma. (Though he was dinged by some for referring to himself in third person and refusing to talk about some of his alleged transgressions, saying they were in the past).
Newton still faces questions about how he will adapt to the NFL, while Mallett's judgment as a passer has drawn red flags. But if Saturday is any indication, it's clear who is more ready to handle the media spotlight.
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