Beckett Football‘s Jon Gold was in Los Angeles for the NFL PLAYERS Rookie Premiere this weekend where he caught up with more than a few first-timers as they signed autographs and posed for photos in their new threads all in the name of football cards.
You’ll find more from the event in the next issue of Beckett Football, but here’s a quick Q&A with a guy you might have heard of … Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall draft pick Cam Newton.
What’s it like to see yourself on a card?
“It’s somewhat of a surreal moment to see yourself on a card, but at the same time, you can’t get complacent, because it’s one thing to be on a card, and it’s another thing to have your card have value.”
Do you have any idea what you’re cards are worth right now?
“I thought you were gonna tell me…”
It’s a lot.
“For real? What’s a lot?”
I think one just sold for about $350.
“Whoo! Heck no! Quite frankly, I’m about to doggone renegotiate my contract with Panini. For real, it’s something that every kid dreams about. I was just wiling to see myself on Sports Illustrated. Now I have the opportunity to see myself on a card? On posters? That’s cool. That’s crazy.”
Did you used to collect?
“Collect them, no. But I used to get them; I remember numerous times when I had lots of cards. But I was organized enough at a young age to say I’m going to collect these.”
Have you had your “Welcome to the NFL” moment? For a lot of people, this is it, putting on the jersey really for the first time…
“Every time I get to that checkpoint, I feel like I have to get to another checkpoint in terms of me feeling like I’ve made it to the NFL. It’s one thing to be in the NFL and it’s one thing to make an impact on a team in the NFL, and that’s what I’m striving for.”
Do you automatically revert back to that “rookie” mentality when you get to the NFL? You had a great season, a ton of accolades – do you try to keep that momentum going into the League?
“You have to keep that swagger. For me to have that unique swagger, I think that’s what makes me different from another athlete. I’m always going to have confidence in myself. Often times, I see people trying to critique the kind of person I am – they always get mistaken about my confidence as far as cockiness. I looked up growing up at guys like Muhammad Ali, Deion Sanders, those guys. They weren’t arrogant – they were just confident in their ability. Confidence comes from being very prepared for the given moment.”
How quickly do your rivalries shift from college to pros? You seem really tight with a lot of guys out here …
“It’s never like you want to kill a person or just hurt a person, it’s just the competitive nature of the game. It’s the nature of the beast. When that clock is on, and you’re on that football field, everyone wants to win, and it’s by any means necessary. As soon as the clock strikes zero, you’re back to being a human being again. You hope the best for that particular individual. That’s the respect level you have. Many people forget the fact that the people they look at on ESPN or Sports Illustrated, they’re really human beings. They need food to get energy, they need the right amount of sleep. That’s what it all comes down to.”