The national title game is just hours away, meaning all eyes will once again be on Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and his father Cecil, who will be attending the game. As controversy continues to swirl around the Newtons, people have naturally become curious about just who Newton’s father is and what his motives are. But when it comes to Cecil Newton, very little is known and about the only thing that’s clear is that he won’t be winning a Father of the Year award anytime soon. – Jim WeberWhen the college football season started just over four months ago, few fans knew who Cam Newton was and they certainly didn’t know about his father.
But they sure learned his name fast after Newton led the Tigers back from a 20-7 hole against South Carolina on national television, scoring five touchdowns and amassing over 330 yards of total offense.
Each passing week Newton built on his campaign for the bronze statue and the Newton family was on top of the world after a 24-17 victory over LSU in which Newton was virtually flawless and had his most iconic Heisman moment:
It was a great story of redemption for Newton, who left Florida after being arrested for purchasing a stolen laptop computer and spent a year in purgatory at junior college. Now Newton was back with a smile always plastered on his face and a father who was a pastor and had apparently gotten his son’s head on straight.
It had all the makings of the next “Blind Side.”
That is, until ESPN dropped a bombshell in early November that Cecil had been shopping his son around for $180,000 to the highest bidder. In an instant, the Newtons went from all that was right with college football to a microcosm of the greed and corruption that was ruining the sport.
It was all the more shocking that Newton’s father was a pastor; it begged the question, was Cecil Newton an otherwise good man who was that desperate for cash or was he a complete fraud altogether?
Two months later, it’s still very unclear.
Here’s what we know about Cam Newton’s father:
• Cecil played defensive back at Savannah State from 1979-83 and had a short stint in the NFL before returning to Georgia, where he has resided ever since and now lives in Atlanta.
• He’s now 50 years old and has a wife named Jackie and three sons – Cecil Jr. (who attended Tennessee State and now plays center for the Jacksonville Jaguars), Cam and a 12-year old named Caylin.
• Newton is a pastor at the Holy Zion Center of Deliverance and is involved in a construction business.
And that’s where thing get murky.
As for the church where Newton is pastor, there’s not much to go on. From the looks of it, well, let’s just say it could use an extreme makeover:
I know what you’re thinking and yes, it looks pretty creepy and deserted. The building is a former car dealership that was dissolved in 2008 for failing to file its annual registration. The structure is so run-down that Newton has spent the last two years trying to bring the building up to code to avoid getting it condemned. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in November, Newton still needed to make $50,000 in repairs to the building or it will be torn down.
Good luck finding more information on the church. Its telephone number has been disconnected.
Cecil’s wife, Jackie, was quoted by ESPN as saying: “If you’ve ever seen our church, you’d know we don’t have any money. We have nothing.”
Even less is known about his other job. Cecil Jr. has been quoted as saying that the elder Newton owns a construction company. Well you won’t find a single media outlet that has reported the name of that company because it’s not clear if it still exists. Obviously, message boards have exploded with speculation of the possible construction company, pointing to one in particular named JAC and Associates that was supposedly absolved recently.
Either way, add one more thing we know about Cecil Newton: He’s really, really broke. Whether that excuses trying to shop his own son to schools for $180,000, I’ll let you decide.
The dangerous part for Newton is that now the FBI has gotten involved to see whether Newton used either of these businesses to launder money and cheat the IRS out of money. Newton’s church is especially suspicious because of the extra money that could have been saved by laundering money through a non-profit organization.
But at the end of the day, there still has still been no proof that any money changed hands or that Cecil Newton broke any laws. And while Newton has been villainized by the media and college football fans alike for the last two months, his son’s a lock to be a first round pick in April’s NFL Draft, with millions of dollars awaiting in the NFL and agents lining outside the Newton’s family home in Atlanta tomorrow with truckloads of money to sign the Heisman Trophy winner.
Whether you like it or not, Cecil Newton is about to have the best day of his life with ESPN cameras capturing his every joyous moment.
Cecil should be easy to spot after every big play by his son; he’ll be the guy in the stands making it rain.
- Jim Weber is the president and founder of LostLettermen.com. His column appears every Monday.