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Thursday, March 31, 2011
Updated: April 3, 11:01 AM ET
Warren Moon defends Cam Newton

ESPN.com news services

Warren Moon, the first African-American quarterback to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, told CBSSports.com that he believes some of the criticism of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is based in racism.

"A lot of the criticism he's receiving is unfortunate and racially based," Moon, who is Newton's adviser, told the website. "I thought we were all past this. I don't see other quarterbacks in the draft being criticized by the media or fans about their smile or called a phony. He's being held to different standards from white quarterbacks. I thought we were past all this stuff about African-American quarterbacks, but I guess we're not.

"Of course there is racism in every walk of society. We've made a lot of progress in this country. But racism is still there. I just thought in the sports arena we were beyond it. I think the way Cam is being treated shows we're not."

A draft profile in Pro Football Weekly published this week blasted Newton. Under the category of negatives, Newton was described as "very disingenuous -- has a fake smile, comes off as very scripted and has a selfish, me-first makeup. Always knows where the cameras are and plays to them."

The profile also said that Newton "lacks accountability, focus and trustworthiness."

Nolan Nawrocki, the author of the Pro Football Weekly draft profile, called Moon's take "absurd" in an interview Thursday with ProFootballTalk.com. He said the publication said some of the same things about Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen last year when he was described as "scripted and disingenuous in interviews."

"I think the best evaluators in the NFL are colorblind in their assessments, and we treat it the same way. We're not trying to take shots at anybody. It's all about getting the evaluations right," he said.

Moon said he doesn't believe NFL teams are discriminating against Newton, but Moon is upset about the public perception of Newton.

Moon told the website that Newton unfairly is being compared to recent draft flameout JaMarcus Russell just because they share the same skin color.

He also pointed out that Sam Bradford came out of a spread offense with Oklahoma similar to the offense Newton ran at Auburn, but there didn't seem to be questions whether Bradford could run a pro-style offense once he was drafted.

"Some of these questions about Cam are more about his intellect. It's blatant racism, some of it," Moon told the website.

Moon became Newton's adviser after the quarterback's father, Cecil, reached out to see if he would train his son. Moon steered the Newtons to George Whitfield instead, but agreed to mentor Cam.

"I'm actually more of a consultant and adviser to the family, and a mentor to Cam as he makes this transition," Moon told the News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., last month.

At the combine in Indianapolis last month, Newton read a prepared statement to try to clarify a comment he made in which he described himself as "not only as a football player, but an entertainer and icon."

Newton explained where his focus will be in the future, and later said that he was at fault for being unclear.

"First and foremost, I understand that my obligation is to be the best possible football player I can be," he said. "I know and believe that."

Controversy is nothing new for Newton.

The NCAA ruled in December that Newton was unaware of the pay-for-play scheme involving his father and the owner of a scouting service. Cecil Newton and Kenny Rogers -- a former Mississippi State player who worked for an agent -- sought money for the quarterback to play for the Bulldogs.

Cam Newton was arrested while attending Florida in November 2008 for having a stolen laptop. The charges were later dropped when he completed a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders.

Newton has met with or is scheduled to meet with nine teams ahead of the NFL draft, which will be held April 28-30. Those teams, his agent, Tony Paige, told The Associated Press, are: the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins.

Moon said that all teams have to do is watch tape of Newton and spend time with the Heisman Trophy winner to know he's not "fake."

"You can't be fake and win a national championship," Moon told the website. "The players will see through it. He's won at every level. He took that Auburn team to the national title and that team wasn't as talented as some other teams in the SEC."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.