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Digital Cam-corder

This little trophy – while it sure has caused great debate – created very little drama.

All four finalists for The Heisman – and the media and general public – have known for some time that Auburn’s Cam Newton would win this coveted trophy. This despite the fact that many are pretty reluctant to believe that Newton knew nothing about his dad shopping his services to Mississippi State for cash.

The big question is this: can Cam keep the trophy, or will he eventually have to return it in shame, à la Reggie Bush.

My vote? Give it to the Marriott chef. His kitchen killed it with the media buffet!

After speaking last week at the annual Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, I flew to NYC to photograph some (non-weird) sports, see friends and visit local photo galleries.

When I learned that the Heisman would be held while I was here in NYC, I offered up my talents to The Register-Guard, which has a Duck, er, dog in this race, UO’s LaMichael James.

I had zero allusions of making super compelling images – especially since the media is excluded from the televised ceremony – but I was curious to peak behind the curtain.

Friday offered up two official photo ops: one in a tiny Marriott conference room, the other a drive-by visit to see the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree. Joy to the world.

One thing I noticed about Cam: dude’s got a multi-million dollar smile. He had all the members of the media eating whatever he served to them.

To think this man is stupid enough that while at University of Florida, he was caught with a stolen laptop. He also got caught cheating, which forced his hand. He transferred to a juco, and then to Auburn.

That we all make mistakes is a cliché, but it’s also a truism. That there’s a series of bad decision-making hovering around Cam makes his denial regarding knowledge of his father’s $180k solicitation seem doubtful. Seriously, how could he not know anything?

What wasn’t in doubt was that he was this year’s best college player. I caught some of his games on TV. Dude can flat out play.

So can LaMichael James, below, NCAA’s best rusher. Though he, too, has his issues. He was arrested in February for physical abuse in an argument with his GF. And then he was seen in a “borrowed” SUV. Perhaps it’s time to acknowledge college sports is a business, not a pure, educational experience.

The second photo op left me out in the cold, literally. The players were taking a bus tour with their family and swung by Rockefeller Plaza for a quick, awkward photo op. At least Boyd was there to keep me company.

Manhattan has changed so much from when I was a kid. It used to be sketchy and dangerous. You always watched your back and surroundings. Bums were always coming up asking for money. Now, everything feels safe. Nothing to worry about. It’s bizarre.

There was a dude who came up to Boyd (above). He looked pretty weathered, his jacket filthy. He slurred a little and was smoking. Of course, he wasn’t asking for change. He wanted to ask for help using his digital camera. I laughed as Boyd walked him through the settings of his camera.

Everyone is a photographer now. Everyone.

On Saturday, they held a final presser with all four finalists. My challenge was trying to make an appropriate photo of LaMichael, who had no chance of winning. (He finished third.)

I found the scene below a little funny: the only thing those 3 kids would leave with that night would be a souvenir bottle of water. Cam was leaving with the hardware.

And so, we waited in the Marriott for about 3 hours, watching the televised ceremony on ESPN. There was one lone pool photographer shooting the announcement, though there’s a solid chance SI had someone there as well. Afterwards, they shepherded Cam back to us at the hotel.

What’s ironic is that there wasn’t a ton of media here. Yeah, there was plenty, but not a ton. Boyd noticed a pile of uncollected press passes. Papers can’t afford to cover events like they would in the past. Most are relying on wire. Few sent photographers. Sign of the times.

It was an interesting experience, one I’m glad I got to witness. Though shooting a series of press conferences doesn’t fill the soul.

One of the reasons why I wanted to shoot this, aside from being here already, was on the off-chance Cam has to return the trophy. I wanted pix with him holding the trophy. Felt like I was documenting a little piece of history, one that’s not completely written yet.

I nearly coughed up a lung laughing when Cam, in his acceptance speech, thanked his father for “all the things he’s done behind the scenes.”

Wow. Really?

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