INDIANAPOLIS — Before taking a single question during his long-awaited appearance before the media at the NFL scouting combine, Cam Newton tried to put out yet another fire.
In a prepared statement, the former Auburn quarterback tried to clarify a recent comment in which he described himself as "not only as a football player but an entertainer and icon."
Newton noticed the wave of negative reaction and felt he was misunderstood. The Heisman Trophy winner spent his first minute at the podium Saturday explaining where his focus will be and later said 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."
His comment drew a reaction because some say his swagger teeters on the edge of pure arrogance. In roughly 12 minutes at the podium, he referred to himself in the third person three times. When asked if some mistake his confidence for cockiness, he said: "I'm not sure, but I'm a confident person, and it was instilled in myself at an early age to believe in myself."
Controversy, it seems, follows Newton.
The NCAA ruled in December that he was unaware of the pay-for-play scheme involving his father, Cecil, and the owner of a scouting service, former Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers. Newton said the scrutiny helped the father and son's relationship:
"The relationship with my father was one that was already good before this whole adversity thing, came up with the NCAA, and this whole NCAA thing … just brought me and my father closer together."
Newton won the Heisman and a national championship before declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft.
Newton dealt with controversy even before his Auburn days. He was arrested while attending Florida in November 2008 for having a stolen laptop. The charges were dropped when he completed pretrial intervention, and he went on to play a year at Blinn (Texas) junior college.
LABOR: Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league's top labor negotiator used the combine to update owners on collective bargaining negotiations.
In an e-mail, league spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed that Goodell and Jeff Pash met Friday with the owners' labor committee at the Colts' team complex. Colts owner Jim Irsay, Aiello said, did not participate because he was out of town.
The NFL Players Association and owners are trying for a new collective bargaining agreement before the old one expires Thursday. The sides will resume negotiating in front of federal mediator George Cohen on Tuesday.
DUERSON SERVICE: Friends and family jammed a Southside Chicago church for a memorial service for Dave Duerson. A four-time Pro Bowl pick and hard-hitting safety who played on Super Bowl winners with the Bears and Giants, Duerson committed suicide Feb. 17 at his home in Sunny Isles Beach, near Miami. He was 50. He asked that his brain be donated for study at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University.
OBITUARY: Ricky Bell, an NFL defensive back who went on to play in the CFL, died Feb. 17 in Columbia, S.C. He was 36. No cause of death was given.
DOLPHINS: ESPN.com reported that defensive tackle Paul Soliai agreed to a franchise tender worth $12.381 million for a year.