By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — You might look at the Cam Newton hype videos on Instagram and say that if there were not an ongoing pandemic and if real sports were taking place during normal times, then perhaps the attention on these social media snippets would not get all of the resulting coverage from websites that are starved for sports content.
And you’d be right.
Talk is, of course, always cheap, especially in the NFL. And there’s never been a game won or a touchdown scored by way of a clean-looking and neatly edited video posted in July. Surely, everybody with a brain understands this.
Yet … once you get past that reality and start really listening to what Cam Newton has been saying over the past several weeks and months, and when you see that hulking frame and the actual fire in his eyes? It’s honestly difficult to not start believing that he’ll be able to back it all up.
Consider what he said in a video that gained plenty of attention over the weekend. Again, ignore the buzz and listen directly to the words.
You know what makes this [stuff] different is they ain’t never seen this Cam. They ain’t never seen him. You wanna know how I know? I ain’t never seen him. The forgotten Cam. The [dumped] on Cam. Tired of being sick and tired Cam. Felt like I was just left to die. You know what I’m saying? Just, ‘It’s over with for him. He ain’t the same player.’ Mm-hmm. OK. I love it. I adore it. I admire it. I wanna taste it. I want everything about it. You know what I’m saying? Because — ooh — I ain’t never seen that me. Waking up, energized after a hard day, like, ‘Dude, what’s next?’ I’m loving on my kids more. Got more energy. You know what I’m saying?
[Chosen said, ‘Daddy, Daddy. We going to Charlotte? I said, ‘No, son. That’s over with. We got another place we going to. We’re going north.’
It was a worthwhile follow-up to his Instagram self-assessment earlier in the week.
You’re gonna choose THAT, over THIS? I’m really modest, but I’m gonna tell you this: I’m getting tired of being humble now.
I’m a killer. I’m really a killer. I’m really a killer. Ya feel me? I’m getting tired of all this humble s—. Because when you humble, they start taking advantage of you. When you don’t say nothing, they start taking advantage of you. But the hyena, they be doing all what they do. The elephant, they be doing all that they do. The giraffe, the antelope, the chimpanzees — even the gorilla. But it’s one mother f—– in the jungle, when he roar, everything stops! And I’m about to mother f—— roar, mother f—–.
While not a hype video, he shared his feelings on getting passed over by the entire NFL during a roundtable discussion with Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Todd Gurley.
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. 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.
That conclusion was right in line with his closing line from his YouTube video, in which he said farewell to Carolina and hello to New England.
I got so much on my mind right now. But I’m gonna keep this [thing] brief. I’m at your neck.
Now, if these were just the words of somebody who enjoys talking, then they could be easily dismissed. Words, words, words.
But with Newton, it’s worth remembering two things.
For one, he possesses more talent than most athletes on the planet. That is not an exaggeration; first overall picks don’t get chosen by accident (unless the Cleveland Browns are involved), and 6-foot-5, 245-pound quarterbacks don’t exactly grow on trees. Injuries and head shots have taken their toll, no doubt, but when it comes to athletic capability, few men have ever scraped the heights of Cam’s peak.
Secondly, he’s been in a similar position before. Certainly, when Tim Tebow’s backup left the University of Florida after getting in trouble for stealing a laptop and potentially cheating in class, there weren’t many folks in the world who were looking at the young quarterback as a future NFL star. So he went to junior college — Blinn College, to be exact — and promptly won a JUCO national championship. Instead of washing out of collegiate football, Newton lifted himself and his team.
That work at Blinn obviously was enough for him to land a spot at Auburn, where he threw for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,473 yards and 20 more touchdowns. He caught two passes for 42 yards and a score because … why not? The Tigers went 14-0, rolling to a national championship, while Newton won the Heisman Trophy in an absolute runaway.
Newton accounted for all of that success on a team where his best skill players were Michael Dyer, Darvin Adams, Onterio McCalebb, Terrell Zachery, Mario Fannin, Philip Lutzenkirchen and Emory Blake. Outside of himself and Nick Fairley, the 2010 Auburn Tigers were not comprised of future NFL stars.
So, that’s what happened the last time the football world counted Cam Newton out. He put in the work at a school where nobody was watching, and within two years he had elevated himself to No. 1 overall pick status in the National Football League.
Not too many No. 1 overall picks have that kind of rapid rise-and-fall in their backstories, but Newton has of course shown an ability to come back from hurdles that could have proven insurmountable to many.
The doubt and skepticism this time around is of a different variety. Namely, seemingly every NFL franchise determined that Newton’s days of winning MVPs while leading near-undefeated seasons are behind him, owing to injuries and general wear and tear over the years.
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. So, I feel vindicated to some degree, but I’m searching for — I’m aiming at, I’m going at necks all year.
Perhaps it will all end up being hot air. Countless athletes before Cam have talked a big game without being able to deliver, and still more will carry that torch for all of eternity.
Yet there’s just something about this particular drive in this particular person in this particular circumstance with this particular organization and this particular head coach that make it seem like this exact combination of ingredients just might work.
The success or failure cannot be determined or accurately forecast here in mid-July, but let there be no doubt: The Cam Newton Revenge Tour is going to make for one absolutely captivating experience to witness. And as he has made clear with every opportunity he’s gotten to speak, Cam Newton is going to do all he can to make sure he rewrites his own story.