By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Cam Newton respects the greatness of Tom Brady. That much goes without saying.
Still, the confidence within the 31-year-old former MVP allows Newton to see things a bit differently than everybody else. Instead of considering himself as the man who has to fill Tom Brady’s shoes, Newton sees himself as a man who can do things on a football field that Brady could never do.
As you might imagine, that has Newton a bit excited.
“Like OK, we have to talk about the elephant in the room. And it’s like, you know who you’re coming after? And I’m like yeah, great. What [Brady] was, what he is, is great. Needs no even talking about it,” Newton said. “But one thing about it, though … Coach McDaniels, you’re able to call some stuff that you ain’t never been able to call now.”
Newton added: “You’re getting a dog. And you’re getting one of these ticked off dogs, too. And I’m looking at the schedule like, ‘Who we play? THAT team passed on me. OK. THAT team passed on me. They could’ve came and got me. They hollered at me.'”
That’s clearly the type of confidence that can only come from someone who’s been an NFL MVP, who’s led a team to a Super Bowl, and who won a Heisman and a national championship in college. Replacing Tom Brady is no small task, so it’s clear why the Patriots would have been drawn to Newton and capitalized on the unique circumstances that led to signing him to a one-year deal.
Newton was speaking as part of a discussion led by Victor Cruz, and he was joined by Odell Beckham Jr. and Todd Gurley, in a video for Beckham’s YouTube page. The conversation covered a wide range of topics, including the players’ feelings on police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement, and what the NFL can do to further the efforts being made around the country.
“A lot of things have been getting exposed,” Newton said. “And I even go back to where I’m from. Me being from Atlanta, Georgia, by way of College Park, the only time I’ve seen a Caucasian person was in a position of power: the police officer, the teacher, the principal. You know what I’m saying? I went to a predominantly all-Black school, and I knew Black all the way up until college, when I went to a Division I school. Now you’re in question, like, ‘We don’t have no articulate coaches that know the game of football that’s Black? We don’t got no rich dudes that can own the team that’s Black?’ And it’s like, OK, now how much of this have people been getting boycotted or black-balled behind the scenes to avoid that happening, and I think the thing that makes this so impactful is this exposing a lot. And that’s all we wanted. You can’t hide no more.”
Newton added: “We just want our just due. You shouldn’t go off of, ‘OK, how he look.’ Because I do believe in this premise: Just like love — hatred racism, sexism, any type of grouping of any type or sort is taught.”
As for his playing career, Newton went in-depth about how bothered he was to remain without a team for so long this offseason, even despite the challenges and hurdles presented by the COVID-19 situation.
“I’m just gonna keep it a hundred with you. My dog, Future — shoutout to Future — he dropped a mixtape called ’56 Nights.’ One of my favorite mixtapes. And I was like, ‘Bro, they playing with me.’ And I had to count the days, how long I was unemployed. It was 86 nights. Eighty-six nights. That’s just like three months. You see what I’m saying?” Newton shared. “And I’m going through it, and I’m like, OK. Early on, people are going and getting signed, and I’m looking at ’em and going, you can’t say I’m old, because people older than me are getting signed. Then I’m like, you can’t say it’s about injury, because people who are more injured than me are getting signed. So I’m like, ‘OK, cool. Where we at?’ Then you can’t say the talent. So I’m like, ‘Hold on.’
“OK, I’ll be the first person to tell you, these last two years, I haven’t been putting the best film on tape. That’s just honest,” Newton continued. “But then I’m like OK, there’s other people that’s been putting [lousy] film out there that’s getting picked up. And I’m like, whoa. Like I’m feeling disrespected. Because every team at one point had to say, ‘OK, fellas, Cam Newton. What do we think? Uhhhh, pass.’ You feel me? And that’s the disrespect that I feel. I feel vindicated to some degree, but I’m searching for — I’m aiming at, I’m going at necks all year.”
The highly motivated Newton admitted that he had some questions about how he might mesh with head coach Bill Belichick, but he’s now quite happy with how things worked out. Still, getting there by way of getting cut by the Panthers — who had only texted him to tell him that the franchise had moved on from him — has Newton still feeling hurt.
“This whole time, the owner couldn’t call me? The GM couldn’t call me? They called me after the fact. Basically they called me with the decision already made. It was in the book,” Newton explained of how his time in Carolina ended. “And then it’s like, OK. And I’m talking to them like … OK, I’m gonna be professional. I answer the phone call: yes sir, no sir. That’s how my mom raised me. But in the back of my mind, I’m like, y’all got some nerve, bro. Like I’m a warrior, bro. You know what I’m saying? I take everything to heart. I’m the type of dude who will get off the bus mad. I mean, shoot, it’s raining outside! Y’all trying me. So that alone, I done gave this whole city, I gave this whole franchise, I gave the coaches everything — my mind, my body, my soul, my heart. And this is how y’all treat me, bro? And I’ve said it in an interview before, I never once wanted to leave. They pushed me out, because y’all didn’t believe in me. It was like, ‘He’s not healthy yet? Get rid of him.’
“I’m like, OK, cool,” Newton continued. “So now I’m going to another situation where it’s like, I get coached by arguably the best coach.”
Combine all that motivation and confidence with the extremely low price tag, and it’s easy to see why Belichick and the Patriots made the big-name addition at quarterback so late in the offseason. If Newton can successfully channel all of that energy to work with his talent on Sundays, it could very well end up being one of the best comeback stories the league has ever seen.