CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cam Newton, college graduate.
There are few if any titles that could make the fifth-year quarterback of the Carolina Panthers more proud, except maybe Cam Newton, Super Bowl champion. He still has some work to do to earn that title.
Before signing a five-year, $103.8 million extension with Carolina on Tuesday, Newton completed his degree in sociology from Auburn University, the school he led to an undefeated season and national championship in 2010.
Newton recently sat down with ESPN’s Trey Wingo to talk about earning his degree. Here are portions of that interview, which aired Friday on "NFL Live", beginning with what it means to hear the words "college graduate."
"It just gives me so much chills," Newton told Wingo. "It’s like, I’m in the ... and the league class that so many people cherish, but I also can shine light to so many other people that was in the dark. Just to say, 'Why do I need my degree? I already got money. Why do I need my degree?' ... It's not about how it may seem to you. It just makes sense.
"I’m Cam Newton. I’m a graduate of ... of ... of a college. Not only a college, one of the best colleges. Or in my opinion, the best college, you know, in the nation at Auburn University."
Newton’s degree is the culmination of a promise he made to his mother. Jackie Newton never had to remind her son of that promise after he left Auburn for the NFL as the first pick of the 2011 draft.
Newton returned to Auburn after his second season in the league. There were times when he questioned whether he would be able to finish. He didn’t have a student -- or anybody -- assigned to tutor him as he did while a student-athlete.
There were times, Newton confirmed, when he questioned why, as a multimillion-dollar quarterback, he was getting up for an 8 a.m. class.
"Every single time I had to take a test," he said with a laugh. "I mean, those tests was -- was brutal for me."
Newton said he went for a degree in sociology because "I just love talking to people."
When he’s finished with football, Newton wants to use his degree to open a day care.
Newton told Wingo that many students were surprised to see him walk into the classroom. Some questioned why he was there.
"I would simply reply, 'What are you doing here? You know, I’m trying to get a ... college education just like you guys are,'" Newton said. "But, you know, when ... when ... after seeing me week after week, you know, it became normal."
Well, not totally normal. Newton often signed autographs and stopped to pose for pictures, things a normal student doesn’t experience.
Newton said it was kind of like living a "double life," one where he was Cam "Superman" the football player and one where he was Cam the student.
Newton said he always thought about where he sat in class. He didn’t want to be in the back and appear to be "moping." He didn’t want to sit up front and appear to be schmoozing.
He just wanted to blend in, as much as a 6-foot-5, 245-pound Heisman Trophy winner could.
"You know, people see this figure on TV and it’s like, 'Well, he's Superman. He’s this. He’s that. He can handle it,'" Newton said. "But yet, the reality of it is, you know, I’m normal as ... as ... as you are. You know, I get nervous. I get chills. I get ... anxious, you know, in ... in different situations. And, you know, when a person is gettin' that much attention, you know, it kinda makes me not wanna speak in class.
"But my instructors did an unbelievable job with making me comfortable over time, as well as the students."
Newton never told his mom he completed his last class, but he knows she knows. He said the degree conversation with her won’t come until he gets the diploma framed and presents it to her.
"And, you know, I’m just gonna give it to her with the big 'O bow,'" Newton said, with his arms in an air hug.