Newton recently sat down with Odell Beckham Jr., Todd Gurley and former NFL receiver Victor Cruz for a wide-ranging chat in a West Hollywood restaurant for a series called “The Bigger Picture.”
The quartet chopped it up on a number of topics, everything from Black Lives Matter to COVID-19 to their situations entering the 2020 NFL season, with Gurley and Newton each embarking on journeys with new teams.
Newton’s joining the Patriots is the biggest football development here. When Cruz, who acted as a pseudo-host for the event, asked Newton about his new team, Newton let listeners know it’s going to be unfiltered.
“We being honest?” Newton asks. They all say yes. Beckham says, “I’m gonna say they don’t believe in you, Cam. We talked about it ... they don’t believe.” It’s not exactly clear who the “they” is that Beckham is referring to.
And then Cam opened up on his initial impressions on landing with the Patriots.
Newton’s long run of unemployment
Newton talked about the nearly three months he had to wait before receiving a contract offer after the start of free agency in March, citing Future’s mix tape “56 Nights” as his inspiration.
“I said, ‘Man, they playing with me,’ and I had to count the days that I was unemployed,” Newton said. “It was 86 nights. Eighty-six nights. ... that’s like three months.”
Newton watched as older and less-talented quarterbacks got signed before him, and it led him to question what was happening.
Still, he admitted that during the past two injury-plagued seasons, “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.”
The moment the Patriots called Newton’s agent
Newton said he was working out this offseason when one of his agents called to say a team had expressed interest. It was New England.
It seems to have surprised Newton.
“I said, ‘Hold on, how's me and [Bill] Belichick going to mesh?’ You know what I’m saying? Because it's like ... perception.”
Beckham then jumped in with his impression on how the future Hall of Fame coach and the one-time MVP quarterback will work together.
"Watching you, and now to feel that vindication and to be going to Belichick, there is no, ‘How is it going to work?’” he said to Newton. “For me, all he wants to do is put you in a place to succeed. I'm happy to see it.”
‘The elephant in the room’
That’s when Newton turned the conversation a bit. There are, after all, some big shoes to fill at quarterback for the Patriots.
“We have to talk about the elephant in the room,” he said, “It’s like ... you know who you [are] coming after.”
That obviously is Tom Brady. He arguably has the best team résumé of any quarterback in modern league history, all with the Patriots.
Newton doesn’t appear daunted with the challenge. And he’s issuing a challenge to his new offensive coordinator.
“I’m like, yeah ... great. What [Brady] was, what he is, is great, needs no even talking about it," he said. “But one thing about it, though: Coach [Josh] McDaniels, you're able to call some stuff that you ain't ever been able to call now.
“You’re getting a dog. You’re getting one of these ticked-off dogs too.”
This is the kind of stuff Patriots fans have to be eating up, especially after such a rough and strange offseason.
One of Newton’s motivations: revenge
Newton isn’t just playing to revive his career and help keep New England up among the elite teams. He’s also trying to send a message to the other 31 teams that opted not to pursue him.
“And I’m looking at the [Patriots’] schedule and I’m like, ‘Who we’re playing? That team passed on me ... OK, that team passed on me,’” he said. “They could’ve came and got me.”
Newton said his agent continued giving him bad news when certain teams called about the quarterback early in free agency before cooling their interest. The Patriots then entered the picture late, signing Newton for a relative pittance.
It’s also clear that his exit from the Panthers still stings.
“A part of me is left because I gave [the] organization everything,” Newton said. “What I gave, I don’t think, other people were willing to give. And there [were] times where I knew I wasn’t supposed to be playing.”
Newton said he was allowed to choose his best route last season to get healthy, meeting with Panthers general manager Marty Hurney and then-head coach Ron Rivera. Newton told them he felt it was best to go on injured reserve, get healthy and to return before the end of the 2019 season.
At first, Newton said the Panthers made it feel like his health was a priority. But he also said things changed when the Panthers started winning. Carolina was 0-2 with Newton at QB to start last season but then won four straight games with Kyle Allen starting in his place.
The atmosphere, Newton said, seemed to change. He said that he had “foot soldiers” in the Panthers’ locker room last year who were looking out for Newton — and that they were bringing back bad news.
“[They] said, ‘Bro, I ain’t gonna lie to you, like ... it’s bad. They [are] really [expletive] on your name,’” Newton said.
He later added: “I am like, ‘Bro, are y’all forgetting about me?’” The Panthers released Newton in late March.
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