By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The 2020 season did not go the way Cam Newton had anticipated it would. Then again, not a lot of things went the way people wanted them to in the year 2020.
And so on New Year’s Eve, the 31-year-old Newton was in a reflective mood as he discussed his state of mind entering the final game of the season. From his personal life to his professional life, Newton opened up about the challenges he faced in what was the most unique year for everyone who experienced 2020.
Below are some lengthy personal comments Newton offered on Thursday night, as he is entering another offseason of uncertainty as an NFL quarterback.
(This is just a partial transcript of Newton’s conversation with the New England media. The full video from the Patriots is at the bottom of the post.)
Q: Hey Cam, Happy New Year. How are you today?
Newton: Feeling so 2021.
Q: That’s a good thing I guess, right?
Newton: Hey, it can’t be any worse than 2020!
Q: What are your reflections on what this year has been like for you in Foxboro, and some of the lessons you’ve taken from this process and how you hope they contribute to future growth?
Newton: Oh, man. I think throughout the whole year, just me personally, and since I did just get [The Ron Hobson Good Guy Award], it’s kind of like my acceptance speech.
Helpful, available, accommodating.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) January 1, 2021
But yeah, for me, for half of the year, and even still kind of now, I’m still having to introduce myself to either the fan base or to people who I’ve been around all year but really don’t know me in a way that … the media can portray you as this person that you’re completely not like. And I think the only regret that I have is just not being able to have face-to-face interviews with people, because I’m pretty sure, just as eager as I wanted to have those conversations, I know there’s a lot of other reporters that wanted to do the same. And I understand.
One thing I do know, and I’ve learned this rather in the latter part of my career, was understanding that you guys [the media] have a job and responsibility, and I know it’s tough, I know it’s hard. But once you understand that this is your guys’ livelihood, it kind of takes the emotions out of the constant, like, ‘Why would you even ask me that question?’ You know what I’m saying? And I know, the frustration of not having the game that you wanted to have, not having the season that you wanted to have, not having the day that you wanted to have can kind of boil over into an interview. But yet, needless to say, I just appreciated this whole opportunity. I don’t know what the future holds. And I’m not even looking to the future. My plate is full right now. And I’m just trying to finish what I started and make the most of it.
Q: Do you feel that you’ve been given all the best opportunities to have success this year? Is there anything that you feel could have been done differently in terms of allowing for your personal success?
Newton: Yeah, without a doubt, and all of that is contingent upon me. I’ve had a great relationship with Jedd [Fisch] when he was here. Great relationship with Josh [McDaniels]. Great relationship with Mr. Kraft. Great relationship with Dolla Dolla Bill and just this whole coaching staff. You know, so, my only regret was I wish I had more time to dissect what I was actually getting into. I’ve been in this league long enough to kind of always downplay, like, ‘Man, we don’t need preseason. We don’t need OTAs. We don’t need … we’re ready to go.’ Yeah, maybe if I was still in the same system that I came from.
But learning this system, yeah, you just need more time, you need more real reps to kind of go through because there’s only but so much you can kind of … make up. Like, you could put the eyelashes on, you could do your eyebrows, you could put your lipstick on, the mascara, and the lip liner, but sooner or later, it’s gonna rain. And the real, true you will show. And unfortunately it showed, not necessarily in ways that I wanted it to. But it was just hesitation.
But now, as I get comfortable, it’s nobody to necessarily pick at. Or to say, you know, “Man, I wish Josh … Man, I wish they woulda … .’ No, that’s not me. I have children, and I know one day we’re going to have a conversation, and I’m going to say as a grown man, you just accept all responsibilities and you hope who really knows this game just knows that they can dissect it for what it’s worth.
But for me, I still can be better. I still can be more consistent. Some of the throws that I’ve had, I wish I would have had back. But yet nobody cares about the circumstances, nobody cares about the waves or the tide that’s in the water. They just care about you just reeling that ship on in, and I didn’t do that consistently enough.
Q: For you personally, 2020 has been a crazy year between free agency, coming to New England, COVID, the ups and downs of the season. What do you think you’ve learned about yourself this year?
Newton: I’m a mentally tough S.O.B., bruh. And everything that you just said really wasn’t really the main one that I’m just like, you know — which ones did you say?
You said the injuries. I heard injuries. That was tough to kind of get over.
The late free agency. Yup. That was tough.
COVID, you mentioned. And even the success, those are all ones that you kind of look back and kind of, ‘Yeah, it could have been better.’
But the one for me is my kids. It’s my children. It’s like, any father, any mother who’s on this call right now to go without talking to your kids or your family. That was — that’s everything, you know what I’m saying? Because like it’s like, I’ll put it like this. And I’m being honest, right? I had two birthdays that I didn’t see. My son Chosen’s birthday was on Christmas Eve. I didn’t get to see it with him. My son Cashmere’s birthday was on September 30th, and I didn’t get to see that too. Cashmere just turned 1, so that was kind of like a big deal for him. Chosen just turned 5.
So, and even more or less, not seeing my kid’s first steps. Like, all of those things, being unemployed for 86 nights, yeah that’s tough. Having injuries, yeah that’s tough. Going through this season and you can kind of assume what a juggernaut media market that Boston is or Foxboro, New England, whatever you want to call, is. The slander that comes with living up to the TB12 expectations. Yeah, all of that is tough. You hear it. But none of it is even a close second to not being able to see your children.
And just that. You miss your kid’s first steps, you’re not there during Christmas, you’re not there on birthdays, and then on top of that, you’re sucking? Oh, man! And then coming from a person who’s already emotional? And I don’t even want to talk to people on a regular day let alone when everything ain’t going good.
But I’ve learned that through it all, you only got your faith in God, your faith in yourself. And that’s pretty much it. I’ve really relied on understanding of trying to find something to build off of. It didn’t matter if it was a, ‘OK, well, it was an incomplete.’ And you may think of it as — I don’t care what you think about it. But for me, I’m being optimistic through it all and I’ve learned to be optimistic especially throughout these trials and tribulations because at times during this year, it was like, ‘God. Like, man. What is it? What are you doing? What are you trying to tell me? Like, what am I not doing?’ And yeah, having to wake up at certain amount of times and leaving the facilities at certain amount of times and still not having the success that you want to have, it teaches you resiliency. It teaches you patience. It teaches you to have faith and understanding that, listen, sooner or later, you’re going to get a break.
I’m not looking for no handouts. It’s just more or less for me to just say, ‘Bruh, DAMN. Finally.’ Right? And 2020, man I’m about to sign, seal, I’m about to tie this year up, put a big knot on it. I can buy every single lock, key and throw away all of them. I don’t want to see no part of 2020, but it made me a better person. That, I do believe.
And that’s something, being a part of this franchise is something that you just don’t wash away that stench, that aura of being a Patriot. It’s something that’s in you. Being around arguably the greatest coach of all time and looking at him from afar, because obviously, my living method may not be as his living methods. He wears jeans and a bubble coat or Patriots gear every single day. And meanwhile I’m Polo down, Moncler down, you know what I’m saying? Meshika hat, shades. That’s just my steez. I’m like, this cold, I ain’t ever been able to wear this jacket! Boom,and I’m wearing it. And it still teaches you different methods of producing and having production in this league. And I’ll never forget that.
Q: How has the lack of face-to-face interaction this year affected how it feels to be the quarterback of the Patriots? Have you been able to hear things — good, bad, otherwise — from the fans and media?
Newton: Well I don’t too much get caught up in hearing what people say about me. Obviously I was a professional prior to coming to Foxboro, so I’ve learned early on, never, never care what people think about you, win, lose, or draw. So I kept that whole approach when I came here. So I didn’t necessarily hear what people — I wouldn’t know who said what and how they said it.
But yet, like I’ve mentioned in weeks past, I’m a sociology major. So let’s cut that — the root word of sociology is being social. But at the same time I’m the biggest social most introverted person you’ve ever met. Like a lot of people may look at me and be like, ‘Oh my God, I bet he has a great time out.’ You will never see me out. I just enjoy shows and really great documentaries. Smoking a cigar with some vino. Now, you guys would have never known that until — but that’s something that just probably happens face-to-face.
So yeah, just having a better understanding, and even really, I think what it is about learning other people, there’s only but so much you can learn off of a FaceTime call, off a Zoom call. And what I’ve learned in my history of learning is the more senses that you use to try to learn about something, the better off it’s going to stick to your membrane, right? Obviously we’re only using our sense of hearing and seeing, but obviously if we could touch each other, if we could smell each other, if we could hear each other, and other senses that we do have that you can kind of have face-to-face rather than on the Zoom calls.
I don’t know how tall you guys are. I don’t know if you guys got swag or not. Maybe one of your guys are as swaggy as me. I would never know. That may have been a connection. That may have been a challenge. When I seen Coach Dolla Bill in L.A., my dawg came with a whole Hawaiian shirt tucked in with the cargo shorts, with the thong flip-flops, man! I wouldn’t have known he was that swaggy. I took it as a challenge, so next week I had to get swaggier, bruh. Come on!
Q: Playing in New England, did you learn things about football that you didn’t previously know, and do you feel you have a better understanding of the game?
Newton: Yes. Yes. Yes. I do.
And it’s not to say that being in coach Ron Rivera’s system, or Coach [Mike] Shula’s, [Rob] Chudzinski, who else? Wherever I’ve been or whoever coached me, it was just asked for the quarterback position to do other things. And like I said, this is a system that wasn’t just a system. It was 20 years, you know, back when Bill Parcells was here. Back when different coaches — and I look at the whole lineage and almanac of coaches because they’re hung up as you walk into the building. I didn’t know Pete Carroll was here. I didn’t know multiple coaches was here that coached. And that may not have been when Coach Bill was here. But at the same time, you know what it is.
So to answer your question, it wasn’t … to be asked to do as much as I was asked to do was never placed on my shoulders ever as much as it was this year. And I appreciate it. It made me a more cerebral football player, so to speak.
And I’m going home, you know, telling my dad like ‘Man, Pop, man, it was over double Tom. And, you know, I had to slide the protection, but when the safety rolled down late, I had to move it back to 56 and I had to lock 56. I just forgot to lock the receiver. He ran a sight-adjust, I didn’t hit the sight-adjust. And boom.’ You know, to kind of talk it out like that, I couldn’t say that Week 4. And I’m still like looking at Josh like ‘Josh, we’ve got to meet. Jedd, we got to meet. We got to talk it out. I don’t want to be the dummy that asks the question in front of everybody.’
But I just … we all learn differently. And, yeah, it took 20-plus years to come up with it. And they have their own reasoning because of it. And also for them to try to incorporate some of the things that I’m comfortable with was another wrench in the toolbox, too.
Yet through it all, I ain’t gonna complain. I won’t complain. I’m just going to make the most of this whole opportunity. I’m going to have fun — been having fun — and just love on the guys while I can. And man, I just appreciate it. I appreciate, I can definitely knock this off my bucket list to a degree, man. But at the same time I’m yearning for more, you know? Any competitor, I think Bill said, ‘Any competitor who is a competitor will show up on Sunday.’ And that’s what I expect to do.
But yet, through it all, this year has taught me so much about myself. It was almost like going up under the hood for me. Working on my attitude, working on my patience, working on my faith, working on the resilient side of you. You know, what are you going to do when things aren’t so good? When are we going to tackle your family, tackle your health, tackle your success? Can you still do it? Can you throw? Can you run? Right? And how are you going to respond to it?
So through it all, man, it’s always a challenge. I’m always a person that’s trying to get better and I will continually have that same mentality. And I look forward to it. And there’s some OK guys in his locker room that I plan on still having connections with and … yeah, there you go.
Cam Newton Live Press Conference 12/31: https://t.co/ie7qnZef2R
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 31, 2020
Q: Thank you.
Newton: I appreciate you guys, man. You guys have a way better year next year. And I’ll … if I do see I see you, I’ll see you next year. Well that will be tomorrow. That’s what I mean. But we’re making this s— too, too sad, bro! I’m not that dude, bro! Like I’m sorry for the curse word, but … Happy New Year, man!