Cam Newton's decision to enter the NFL Draft last week was no surprise. There was nothing left for him to accomplish during his senior year at Auburn University, except to perhaps become connected to his father's reported $180,000 pay-for-play scheme with Mississippi State University.
Newton won't be leaving Auburn with a bachelor's degree in his major, social and behavioral sciences, but he owns a Heisman Trophy and a piece of national championship history.
Newton led Auburn to a 14-0 season, throwing for 30 touchdowns and almost 3,000 yards. He also rushed for nearly 1,500 yards, but he still probably won't be the top pick in this year's NFL Draft. In fact, the quarterback who would have been the No. 1 pick in this year's draft has decided to stay in college for his senior year.
Meet Andrew Luck, the player whom former Stanford University head coach Jim Harbaugh called "the antithesis of the celebrity quarterback." He's 6 foot 4 inches, 235 pounds and chiseled like a Greek sculpture.
But if you've seen Luck interviewed (if you haven't, I highly recommend that you type 'Andrew Luck interview' into YouTube), you know that he presents himself as a total nerd. It's a joy watching the most highly touted quarterback in college football giggle and bob his head like a Trekkie who accidentally bumped into William Shatner.
\0x200BThe main reason Luck said he had decided to stay another year at Stanford was to graduate with his degree in architectural design.
\0x200B"If I were to leave school, I'd miss my professors," Luck told an ESPN reporter. Miss his professors? I know students on this campus that would drop out of school right now for a steady job that pays $50,000 a year. If Luck had entered this year's NFL draft, he would have made about $50 million.
In 2006, Stanford finished its season 1-11. This year, Luck led it to a 12-1 record and its first top five ranking since 1940. But he says he doesn't feel as if he's fully formed as a quarterback, and there are still parts of his game he can improve.
John Elway, the two-time NFL Super Bowl champion and former Stanford quarterback who was selected No. 1 in the 1983 NFL Draft, heard this and wondered what flaws Luck was talking about.
\0x200B"I don't see any flaws in Luck's game," Elway said.
\0x200BBusiness Insider writer Kevin Baumer called Luck an idiot for staying in school.
\0x200B"There are just too many things that could go wrong for the 21-year-old," Baumer said.
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\0x200BBaumer is correct. Luck could get badly injured, and he could even see the NFL players and owners reach a new labor agreement that would include a rookie salary cap, dropping his pay to somewhere around $15 million (and that's only if he's the No. 1 pick).
Andrew's father, Oliver Luck, said his son didn't just go to college to play football.
"He loves playing football, of course, but he went to college also to get a degree," he said. "Stanford's a pretty rigorous academic institution. He seriously enjoys his course work."
But it's hard for me not to root for a player that sees himself as more than just a pigskin thrower. Luck is as well-conditioned physically as he is mentally, which is why NFL scouts drool over him. But they'll gasp every time he gets up slowly from the turf next year.
As much as I was disgusted by the Newton family scandal, I understand that most athletes should take the money and run. But Luck is showing the sports world that there are exceptions to every rule. I just hope he can stay healthy.
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