Newton, who won college football’s top award in 2010, was the final speaker, after Pat Sullivan (1971) and Bo Jackson (1985).
Sullivan spoke about how his big three choices in life — faith, college and spouse — helped him get through his struggle with throat cancer.
Jackson told the story of his favorite moment at Auburn, when the Tigers came out of the locker room to celebrate their 1982 victory over rival Alabama. He told of how fans helped his late mother find her way to the field and thanked her for sending her son to Auburn.
Newton, who quarterbacked Auburn to its second national title and first since 1957, revved up the crowd with “War Eagle!” chants and drew cheers and laughs with his untitled poem:
365 days, that was my team
But for some strange reason, it felt like I’ve always been here
All the blood, sweat and tears it took to get this
I’ll always honor and cherish this
My road to the top had a couple of rough spots
But during my time at Auburn, the love of the Auburn family would not let my morale drop
Greatness was what I strived for, and greatness was what I got
The mentality of the Auburn man took me to the top
Some people will never understand the feeling of what it is to be an Auburn man
But I’m lucky enough to be able to raise my right hand and be able to say, ‘I can.’
My time at Auburn, I don’t know if it could have been any better
Man, was it great. Listen to this, Bo
We won and SEC title, a national championship
And, oh yeah, we beat THAT team … 27-28
As a wise man once said, this place, as in Auburn, was great way before you were thought of (Coach Chizik)
And this place is where I will always love
So as I share this day with two of Auburn’s beloved, I want to end by saying, ‘War Eagle!’
And I believe in Auburn and love it
Newton had to stop and repeat one line, drawing laughs with his joke about how the sun glare was impacting his ability to read his iPad. He also bantered with Jackson during the poem.
Jackson, asked by Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs to rate the poem, rated it a six.
The statue ceremony was the highlight of a day that culminated in Auburn’s A-Day spring intrasquad game.
The statues stand outside of Jordan-Hare Stadium, on the east side.
“As you can see by how we laid them out,” Jacobs said, “we left room to grow. We look forward to more national championships and Heisman winners.”
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.