New York Cam Newton thanked his mother, then his father. And then he paused to compose himself.
Cecil Newton was back in Georgia, though his son put him squarely in the room where the Auburn quarterback accepted college football’s biggest award Saturday night — the Heisman Trophy.
“Thank you for all you did for me,” he told his parents, adding. “To my father, I love you so much.”
There was no doubt Newton would win the Heisman. Whether he gets to keep it is still uncertain.
Newton brushed off an investigation that determined his father violated NCAA rules as he did so many tacklers this season and captured the Heisman in a landslide vote.
That didn’t mean it all wasn’t tinged with sadness because his father was not there.
“I’d be sitting up here lying to you if I didn’t say it hurt,” Newton said during the ESPN telecast before the winner was announced. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I love my father. He gave me words of encouragement before I came up here. I know he’s with me in spirit.”
The third player from Auburn to win the Heisman, Newton received 729 first-place votes and outpointed runner-up Andrew Luck of Stanford by 1,184 points.
“Honestly, it’s a dream come true for me, something every child has a dream (about) that plays the sport of football, and I’m living testimony that anything is possible,” Newton said.
Oregon running back LaMichael James was third, followed by Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, the other finalist.
Newton didn’t look a bit surprised when his name was announced inside the Best Buy Theater in Times Square. A wide smile spread across his face and he dropped his head.
After exchanging hugs and handshakes with the other finalists, he and his mother, Jackie, shared a long embrace.
“When I reached my mother, I really didn’t want to let go,” Newton said. “It’s been hard for me, but it’s been extremely hard for her just to see how much her son has been through and I just wanted to hug her the whole night to make her feel at ease.”