By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Cam Newton spent this week promising that he’d be letting things off his chest on Funky Friday. On Funky Friday morning, he delivered.
Newton sat down with his father to discuss the quarterback’s release from the Patriots, his feelings on Mac Jones, and much more.
Here’s what stood out.
CAM FEELS “BAMBOOZLED”
Newton discussed his trip to Atlanta for a second opinion on his foot. He said he appreciated what the Patriots’ medical staff told him, but he felt obligated to get a second opinion. So he met with the doctor who initially diagnosed his Lisfranc injury in 2019.
Newton said he and the team worked together to set up the trip so that it would follow COVID-19 protocols, as laid out by the league. When he got word that he had violated the league’s protocols, he said he felt “bamboozled.”
“I crossed all the lines, I checked all the boxes, I dotted all my i’s,” Newton explained. “Then to find out that I had to sit out. But I’m like … that’s when I kind of felt bamboozled, because I’m like, ‘Y’all told me to go!'”
Newton said that if he had been given more warning, he would have reconsidered the trip.
“It wasn’t like, ‘Cam, you know if you go, you’re taking it up on your risk now.‘ It was not that,” Newton said. “It was almost to say like, ‘I really need a second opinion.’ [And the Patriots said] ‘You know what, that’s a great idea. As a matter of fact, we could FaceTime.’ We had already arranged everything, and we did it. And I got the COVID tests for what it was.”
Newton laid out the process in further detail.
“They [the Patriots] gave me clearance to go. So I don’t want nobody to think that I just went up — like, I’m owed a second opinion. That’s just a fact,” Newton said. “The trip was necessary because this was the last time I felt that I was gonna have the opportunity to get a second opinion. Not to say that the personnel with the Patriots wasn’t coherent to telling me everything that I needed to know, but having four eyes on it is better than having two eyes on it, in my opinion. It wasn’t that I was having any issues or pain; I just wanted to do a checkup, with the person who in essence diagnosed me with the Lisfranc. I felt obligated to kind of check back in with like a six-month review, and say, ‘Listen, doc, this is how I’m feeling, like a little pain. It’s manageable but just check it out.'”
“THIS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH NO VACCINATION”
While Newton’s vaccination status led to him having different COVID protocols placed on him, and while those protocols led to him missing time in training camp, he said that the end of his Patriots career wasn’t tied to vaccination status in any way.
“This had nothing to do with no vaccination,” he said.
CAM BELIEVES THE ABSENCE DIDN’T DETERMINE HIS FATE
While the forced five-day absence — which led to Jones shining in a joint practice session with the Giants — didn’t help his cause, Newton said that it wasn’t the determining factor in the team going with the rookie over him.
“Do I think this would have happened without me being away from the team for five days? Honestly, yes. It was gonna happen,” Newton said. “Did it help ease the decision? Yes.”
CAM AS A BACKUP WOULD BE A DISTRACTION
Even if Mac Jones was good enough to win the starting job, the Patriots didn’t have to completely get rid of Newton. Either due to poor performance by Jones or an injury to the rookie, having Newton nearby to step in if needed could be considered beneficial to the team.
Newton said that he believes his presence as a backup just wouldn’t have worked. It wasn’t a matter of his attitude but rather his “aura.”
“The reason why they released me is because indirectly I was going to be a distraction without being the starter. Just my aura,” Newton said. “Just my aura. … That’s my gift and my curse. When you bring a Cam Newton to your facility, when you bring a Cam Newton to your franchise, people are interested by mere fact of, ‘Who is he? Why does he wear his hair? Why does he talk? Why does he act? Why does he perform?’ All these questions.”
Newton said that personally, he would have openly accepted the backup spot if that’s what the team decided. But Newton believed his mere presence would have created a negative situation for Jones.
“So let me be honest with you: If they would’ve asked me would I play behind [Jones]? If they had said, ‘Cam, we’re gonna give the team to Mac. You’re gonna be second string. We expect you to be everything and some to guide him throughout this tenure.’ I would’ve said absolutely. Yeah. But listen, the truth of the matter is this: He would’ve been uncomfortable. He would’ve. And they knew, and it comes by mere fact of me being me.”
MAC WASN’T TEACHING CAM THE PLAYBOOK
Former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich said on a podcast that he heard from sources inside the Patriots’ organization that Mac Jones was teaching the playbook to Cam Newton. The quarterback said this was not the case.
“No. How can he teach me?” Newton said. “What can Mac teach me? Come on now. … And I like McClennan.”
(McClennan was Newton’s nickname for Jones, even though it had inaccurate origins.)
CAM BELIEVES PATRIOTS ‘DISGUISED’ HIS DIMINISHED ROLE WELL
After Newton returned from his absence, he took the first reps at QB, and then he started the preseason finale. That led most people to assume that he would be the Week 1 starter.
Newton said that despite going first, Jones ended up taking more meaningful and substantial reps — even before the absence.
“When I look back at it, I was probably getting two reps to his 10 reps,” Newton said of Jones. “And that’s why it was starting to make sense. Even though I started, that doesn’t necessarily mean nothing. And that’s where they did a good job with kind of disguising it. ‘Cam took first-team reps today.’ But [people] didn’t know the practice structure was, ‘OK, the first team goes down, second team goes back, and then the firs team comes back too.’ And that’s when he was getting his reps.”
Newton added: “I mean you gotta look at the production in the preseason. I would get the first two to three series. He would take it from second quarter all the way into the third, early fourth.”
All of that being said … Newton did not anticipate getting cut.
“Did it catch me by surprise, being released? Absolutely,” Newton said.
“I’M NOT BITTER”
Newton shared the story of how he found out he was getting cut, and he seemed to have found some humor in the way it played out.
“I think this was the first time for me that I’ve really felt, like, ‘Oh, I really see.’ Like we watch Hard Knocks, we watch these different shows, and you see them come into that room, and they have that realization that their career is over,” Newton said. “Well for me, I’ve been playing long enough to have got it remotely two years ago with the Panthers, but I never really got that call where, ‘Hey, come to the office.’ It was funny, as a matter of fact, to me. I’m laughing at it now. I walked in and they were like, ‘Cam, Cam, Cam.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ They said, ‘Bill wants to meet with you.’ I’m like, ‘OK, cool.’ But Bill’s office is down here, and they was like, ‘He’s in here.’ And that’s when I was like, ‘Oh, OK. I see what’s going on.'”
Despite the way it ended, Newton said he’s not bitter about the decision.
“I’m not bitter. I don’t want nobody to think like, I’m mad. It is business,” Newton said. “When that time came, and I’ll walk you through it. It was a Tuesday morning, and for people who don’t know, I never drove in Boston. I always had my assistant drive me. So it was funny because he dropped me off, and then I had called him or I texted him like, ‘Come back.’ It was like eight minutes into him dropping me off.”
CAM BELIEVES PATS WOULD WIN WITH HIM OR MAC; HIS DAD LIKENED 2020 PATRIOTS TO AN OLD, BEAT-UP CAR
The Patriots are much improved this year. Everyone knows that.
As such, they’re likely to improve upon their win total from last year.
Newton said that the wins will come with Mac Jones at quarterback … but he also feels they would’ve come with Cam at quarterback.
“Let’s just throw this out there while it’s on my mind: They’re gonna win football games with Mac Jones,” Newton said.
Newton’s father replied, “But they were gonna win them with you as well.”
Newton said, “That’s a fact, too. But I don’t want the audience to kind of think like, ‘Oh, he’s just saying that because he’s not genuine.’ Like, no. Mac is good enough. I think when they picked him the selection that they did pick him, they wanted to find out a couple things. But one of those things that they wanted to find out is, is he capable of leading this offense to be productive?”
Later in the discussion, Newton’s father said he wanted to see his son have the keys to the Porsche. That led to Cam asking his father what car he was driving last year.
“You had a Civic, man,” Cecil Newton said. “You had a 2002 red Civic with a yellow passenger door with a bungee cord holding that door. And it was a four-cylinder, and it wasn’t but three cylinders firing. So now you’re going to take the Porsche and give the keys to somebody else. Not to say they wasn’t deserving. And I would go on record to say, did Mac exceed my expectation? For sure. Did he take your job? For no.”
Cecil Newton wanted his son to have a four- or five-game window to have the opportunity to either keep or lose his job this season.
THE DARK KNIGHT
Newton took a famous Batman quote and applied to his situation.
“Man, I gave you the quote of the year, and this was last month, when it was on my heart,” Newton said. “I was watching a movie at the time, really one of my favorite movies, and it was Batman, ‘The Dark Knight.’ And one of the quotes was, ‘Either you die a hero, or you live long enough that you become the villain.’ And at this particular point, I was feeling like I was a villain. Like, you know what I mean? Why’s everybody coming for me? Why’s everybody talking about the way I dress? I’ve been dressing like this — in high school!”
NEWTON DIDN’T IMMEDIATELY KNOW HE WAS BEING RELEASED
Finding the lighter side of his situation, Newton laughed while recalling how he wasn’t entirely sure that he was getting released when he was meeting with Belichick and Matt Patricia.
“When it happened, we went through the meeting, and Matt Patricia was there, Bill was there, and we greeted each other and just started talking. And at that time they told me that they were going to give the reins to Mac. And I was like, OK, cool,” Newton said.”And it didn’t dawn on me that I was like … Y’all are releasing me?! I was just asking. I was confused. Because Bill was like … we all were shocked. It was all uncomfortable for everybody. I wanted to make sure that, listen, I’ve been in this league for 10, 11 years. I know how this works. I don’t want y’all to feel sorry for me.”